Saturday 16 December 2017

Cahill drives Brigid's to 'sweet' success

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

CHRISTMAS is coming and we got an early turkey of a match in this decider at Parnell Park yesterday.

Overall, the quality of the fare served up by St Brigid's and Oliver Plunketts/ER was of the forgettable school-dinner variety, and definitely not haute cuisine.

Free-ridden, with 51 fouls whistled by the referee over the hour; 15 wides, 10 for St Brigid's and five for Plunketts; and only 18 points scored between the sides -- this was not a game for the purist.

Indeed, it was not a match to remember for brothers Alan and Bernard Brogan, two of the finest forwards to grace the All-Ireland championship series over the last two seasons. The latter was particularly well-marshalled by his fellow Dublin senior panelist, Sean Murray

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They were the aces in the Plunketts pack, the men who were expected to provide the firepower to bring the Navan Road club their first Dublin senior football championship, but that never happened.

Alan and Bernard each scored three points and it was just too small a return from the big-name stars against a well-drilled and hard-working St Brigid's defence.

By contrast, down Blanchardstown way last night, the whoops and cheers could surely be heard all the way to Copper Face Jacks, sponsors of the Brigid's team which brought home the county title for the first time since 2003 and only the second time in the club's history.

Barry Cahill, midfielder extraordinare for Dublin in their run to glory in the Sam Maguire Cup six weeks ago, gave a powerhouse display for his club, but the hallmark of their victory was the huge guts and determination shown by the men in red.

We can mark down this war of attrition as a poor game of football, but in fairness to all the players of both sides, they emptied the tank in terms of full-blooded intensity.

There were some memories to stir the blood, images of game-changing moments in a match that took until late in the second half to generate the excitement levels expected of a championship final.

These are the stand-out moments from the game...

Lorcan McCarthy adopts a super-sub persona for St Brigid's, when he arrives on the pitch in the 43rd minute and almost immediately smashes over a massive point from 40 metres to level the scores at 0-5 each.

Paddy Andrews edges Brigid's into the lead with a point from play a minute later, but Gareth 'Nesty' Smith equalises for Plunketts in the 47th minute.

Two minutes later, Alan Brogan uses his experience to win a free just over 20 metres from the Brigid's goal -- but Smith drags the ball wide when a point looks a cast-iron certainty.

Lorcan McCarthy finishes off a five-man passing move in which he was involved twice for Brigid's to lead 0-7 to 0-6 after 49 minutes.

Four minutes later, Alan Brogan makes scoring look ridiculously easy when he cuts inside defender Conor Moran, not for the first time, and slots Plunketts' seventh point over the bar. Level again.

The match-turning point arrives in the 55th minute. Plunketts are on another raid. Bernard and Jason Sherlock pop the ball between defenders for Alan to go for goal.

We've seen it a hundred times -- and there's usually only one result, a bulging net. This time a heroic Brigid's No 7 Gavin Kane hurls himself down into the contact area and blocks the shot. A big shock for Plunketts; a massive shot in the arm for St Brigid's.

A two-minute period of mutual grapple, grunt, grind, hit and compete for the all-important possession of the football ensues, until McCarthy hits the score of the game in the 57th minute.

Another free, this time over the 45- metre line and McCarthy the gunslinger, sends the ball soaring high into the chilly night sky and it seems to take an age to drop... just over the bar! 0-8 to 0-7.

A minute later, full-forward Ken Darcy gets a point after good combination play by Martin Cahill and Andrews and it's 0-9 to 0-7.

Substitute Odhran McCann extends the lead to three points in the 59th minute and then skipper and former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Shane Supple makes a huge save for St Brigid's, blocking a last-minute drive at goal by Plunketts subs Conor Daly.

The resulting '45' was scored by Ross McConnell to make the score 0-10 to 0-8, but in the almost three minutes of added-time, Brigid's had the momentum and they refused to concede any more scores.

A happy Cahill summed up just what it meant for him to be a winner with his club. "We knew it was going to be a bit of a dogfight, a low-scoring affair," he said.

"But we had finished strongly in most of our games and we knew if the game was in the melting pot with 15-20 minutes to go that we had the confidence to go on and do it. From one to 30 it was a real panel effort.

"The feeling six or seven weeks ago (with Dublin) was incredible and this is right up there. To win with your friends, I know it's a cliché, but I would have started out with a lot of these lads at six or seven years of age.

"I have a brother (Mark) and a cousin (Martin) on the team and all these lads are my best mates. I suppose it's a small bit sweeter beating our local rivals."

Defeated manager Mick Galvin said afterwards: "We had our golden period of possession for about 10 or 15 minutes in the second half, but it didn't materialise on the scoreboard and you're always vulnerable then. No complaints.

"Bernard didn't have one of his better games in front of goals -- but he kept trying.

"It's just one of those things. If someone said you're going to score eight points in a county final, I'd say 'you're going to lose'. So that wasn't enough. It's tough but that's football. We didn't score enough to win."

Scorers -- St Brigid's: K Darcy (2f), L McCarthy (2f) 0-3 each, Mark Cahill, G McIntyre, P Andrews, O McCann 0-1 each. St Oliver Plunketts/ER: B Brogan (2f), A Brogan 0-3 each, G Smith, R McConnell ('45') 0-1 each.

St Brigid's -- S Supple; A Daly, Martin Cahill, G Norton; C Moran, S Murray, G Kane; B Cahill, G McIntyre; J O'Loughlin, P Andrews, M Cahill; K Kilmurray, K Darcy, P Ryan. Subs: L McCarthy for P Ryan (43), C Mullins for G McIntyre (45), O McCann for K Kilmurray (54), C Doyle for Mark Cahill (60).

St Oliver Plunketts/ER -- P Brogan; R O'Connor, S Lyons, M Brides; C Evans, P Brogan, S Dunne; R McConnell, A Moyles; C Walsh, G Smith, D Matthews; A Brogan, B Brogan, J Sherlock.

Subs: C Dunleavy for S Dunne (h-t), A Darcy for D Matthews (48), C Daly for G Smith (58).

REF -- G McCormack (N Barrog).

Irish Independent

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