Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A thriller as Gaeilge – and Brigids’ brilliance didn’t get lost in translation!

We’ve all done it (well, I have anyway, several times). 

  Done what? Missed the opening or closing minutes of a game….and several scores in the process. 

  I remember attending a then First Division (what is now The Premiership) match in England years ago, and leaving with five minutes to go as Watford-Liverpool drifted towards a low-key 0-0 draw. 

  Then, as you’ve left the stadium, the roars that tell you you’ve missed a goal; on that occasion, I missed three! 

  Poor old George Best famously left that Champions League Final in 1999 when Manchester United trailed by a goal in the final minutes…we all know what happened. 

  So I’ve been in good company. 

  And one can only imagine how frustrated Kerry fans must have felt if they missed the first ten minutes of the 2006 All-Ireland Senior Football Final! 

  And so to last Sunday, when, inexplicably, I was convinced that the Connacht semi-final had a 2-30 start. 

  So I turned TG4 on at 2.15 or so, to discover that St. Brigids had scored 1-4 already. 

  Cursing my error of judgement, I went to put the kettle on, returning to find I’d missed a second Brigids’ goal! 

  Very often in such circumstances the frustrated fan (me in this case) ends up like the child who didn’t get the party invite – i.e. left out while others have had all the fun – but on Sunday, there was much more great entertainment to come. 

  It was a wonderful match, a thriller that would have warmed our freezing November bodies if we were experiencing the usual November weather! 

  St. Brigids were magnificent. What we saw in the Roscommon Championship (where they confirmed their status as best in the business) resembled now, in retrospect, a prize-fighter resting on the ropes and throwing just enough punches to win; on Sunday, it was all-out attack, with knockout punches delivered with a clinical crispness that at times took the breadth away. 

  This was football of the highest standard from Brigids, an assured perfomance which oozed quality. No-one should go out and order ladders so that we can have a mass ‘shouting from the rooftops’ Open Day – Brigids might never ‘click’ as devastatingly again, and each new game is different – but it is fair to say that on Sunday’s evidence the Kiltoom club at least has the potential to go a long, long way in the All-Ireland Club Championship. 

  Having missed that opening 2-4, it was only at half-time that I saw David  O’Connor’s first goal, the beautifully-timed flick that reminded me of a finish some years ago by DJ Carey in Croke Park. 

  Then TG4’s highlights package revealed the second goal – also in Irish! – a superb finish by Cathal McHugh after a sublime pass from Dolan. 

  It had been a magnificent first half, with Brigids’ moving the ball in cohesive patterns that underlined their experience and the benefit of long evenings on the training field. 

  O’Connor might have had a second goal, his well-hit shot parried after ‘Nail’ had been found by a sensational pass from Frankie Dolan, whose passing was so good one could imagine Ciaran McDonald applauding. 

  Thank God for TG4! What a game this was for the neutrals too! On with the second half, and more magnificent football. It wasn’t all about St. Brigids either – we will get to Padraig Joyce (which is more than can be said for a few defenders over the years). 

  Brigids’ goaled again (a Mannion penalty), reward for their ambition and the quality of their approach play. 

  Padraig Joyce was a one-man life support machine for a wilting Killererin. He fired over points with his customary class – needing little space or invitation – but knew too that goals were needed. He had one disallowed, a controversial call at the time, and later went to show sheer class when he buried what was barely a half-chance (until Joyce created the space he needed) past Shane Curran. 

  Brigids however would not be thwarted and the devastating O’Connor netted again with the coolest of finishes after Mark O’Carroll found him in lots of open space. 

  The rampant O’Connor could have had another goal late on when he slid in and connected with a cross which trickled just wide. 

  Joyce was magnificent, a joy to watch as ever, and gracious in praise of Brigids in an after-match interview.  

  The day belonged to Brigids however. Jimmy had placed two nails in Killererin’s coffin – and that was that. 

  It was gripping stuff – I finally got back to the kettle and enjoyed my cuppa while the decidedly more mundane snooker, as gaeilge, followed!