Hodson Bay Roscommon SFC Final
Clann na nGael 4-15
St. Brigid's 2-12
Not even in their wildest dreams could any Clann na nGael player, mentor or supporter have predicted that they would go to Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday and beat their deadly rivals and neighbours by twelve points, scoring four goals and fifteen points into the bargain, but that’s exactly what happened following as good a county final as we have seen at senior club level in many decades.
The final margin was unfair on a St. Brigid’s side who contributed handsomely to a thrilling spectacle on a beautiful sunny day. Those of us who had predicted a dour struggle were proven wrong as the two teams went at eachother from the start. Not a sign of a sweeper, especially in the first half, and the crowd were treated to some fantastic attacking football throughout the game.
It was an incident-packed encounter from the opening seconds, but ultimately the game turned in five dramatic minutes in the third quarter. Clann led 1-10 to 1-8 at that stage but Brigid’s were putting on the pressure. Midfielder Mark Daly powered through the Clann defence but his thunderbolt of a shot clipped the crossbar and went over. Less than two minutes later Gearoid Cunniffe ploughed into Jack Connaughton and caught him head-high. Referee Paddy Neilan took his time to consider his options and then flashed a straight red card to the experienced Brigid’s man.
Padraig Kelly’s point levelled the scores at 1-10 apiece but within a minute and a half Brigid’s were six points down in sensational fashion. First Jamie Fahy stole in along the endline and his pass found veteran sub Johnny Dunning who fisted home. It looked a crucial score but worse was to come for Brigid’s. Shane Mannion’s kick-out after the goal went straight to another Clann sub, Cathal Callinan, and he had the presence of mind and the skill to lob the ball back over Mannion’s head for a brilliant goal.
Six points and a man down, the writing was on the wall for St. Brigid’s after that, and try as they might they just couldn’t bridge the gap. Clann had the bit between their teeth and they closed out the win with some tremendous scores from play and from frees.
There was so much to admire about the Clann display. Cathal Shine started at midfield and he played a huge role in his side’s victory. Even Cathal himself would admit that he was not having his best year but he chose county final day to play his best game in a Clann jersey for many years, kicking two mighty points in the process.
Donie Shine, the Clann talisman, didn’t disappoint either. Some of his striking off the ground was worth the admission fee alone. In the 51st minute he lashed a free over from at least 65 metres and his penalty in extra-time was another highlight. His contribution of 1-7 was massive as he lifted the Fahey Cup after the game. No-one deserved it more. His dad (the late Donie Senior) would have been very proud.
There were many other heroes in Clann jerseys too. Jack Connaughton was simply phenomenal; he was here, there and everywhere, linking up the play, and helping out in defence and attack. He was definitely my Man of the Match. Whoever takes the reins of the Roscommon senior team could do worse than give Jack a call when he is picking his new panel.
Ciarán Lennon also had a tremendous game as did his brother Fergal who saw action after only two minutes following the black card given to Dara Pettit. Ultan Harney was tremendous in the engine room and subs Cathal Callinan and the evergreen Johnny Dunning were so effective when introduced, scoring 2-1 between them.
Spare a thought for St. Brigid’s who were neck and neck with Clann for three-quarters of the game. Senan Kilbride was on fire in the first half and his 5th minute goal was a thing of beauty as he side-stepped Ronan O’Reilly and poked the ball into the empty net. But Clann double-marked Senan after the break, and when he started to drift out the field Brigid’s cutting edge was severely blunted, Niall McInerney never gave up the ghost and Mark Daly played well at midfield, but once Clann got those two goals in 30 seconds it was curtains for Frankie Dolan’s men.
Having won their third minor title in a row last Sunday and their fourth U-16 title on the trot the night before, anyone writing off St. Brigid’s would be very foolish, but Sunday belonged to the men from Johnstown.
After the game I met men like Johnny Dowling, Eamon and Tony McManus, Vincent Harney, Fran Nicholson, Owen McManus and Eamon ‘Junior’ McManus, to name but a few. They were overjoyed, and why not? Of all the club’s great wins over many decades this was one of their sweetest ever.
I know that it will not be of much consolation to St. Brigid’s this week but they played a huge part in what was a great Roscommon senior final and we haven’t had that to say too many times. That it was shown on national TV was also great for the game in the county too.
There was hardly a minute on the clock when Cathal Shine made a mighty catch, then passed to Emmet Kenny who set up Ciarán Lennon who shot low under Shane Mannion for a sensational start for Clann.
Clann defender Dara Pettit was black-carded for blocking Senan Kilbride’s run and he was replaced by Fergal Lennon in the 2nd minute.
Brian Stack rattled over a great point for Brigid’s and in the 5th minute Niall McInerney drove long and high into the danger area. Senan Kilbride fielded brilliantly and slipped the ball into the empty net (having side-stepped Ronan O’Reilly) for a great goal.
The sides were level seven times in the opening half alone. The highlights included a massive point from Cathal Shine in the 10th minute, two superb points from play from Senan Kilbride, sensational free-taking from Donie Shine and two great points from Ciarán Lennon.
In first-half injury-time Clann poked their noses in front with two long-range Donie Shine frees and by the break Fergal Shine’s men were two points ahead.
Half-time score: Clann na nGael 1-9 St. Brigid’s 1-7
Ciarán Lennon and Senan Kilbride exchanged points before five incident-packed minutes that had a huge bearing on the outcome.
In the 39th minute Mark Daly’s shot for goal clipped the top of the crossbar and went over. In the 41st minute Gearoid Cunniffe saw red after a clash with Jack Connaughton.
Brigid’s were level less than two minutes later when Pádraig Kelly kicked a great point but disaster was to strike for Brigid’s in the 44th minute as Clann scored two goals within 30 seconds.
First, Jamie Fahy made a brilliant run in along the endline before passing to sub Johnny Dunning and he fisted past Shane Mannion. The Brigid’s goalkeeper tried a fast kick-out, but the ball found another Clann sub, Cathal Callinan, who coolly lobbed the ball back over Mannion’s head for a goal very reminiscent of the one scored by Barney Rock in the All-Ireland final in 1983. Six points in it: 3-10 to 1-10.
Clann kicked five points in a row from the 50th to the 58th minute to pull away. The highlight was an incredible 65-metre free from Donie Shine in the 51st minute.
In injury-time, another Clann sub, Sea Henry, was brought down by Shane Mannion and Donie Shine lashed the resultant spot-kick to the Brigid’s net.
In the 62nd minute Brigid’s were down to 13 men as Garvan Dolan was red-carded for an incident close to the dug-outs but the game was over and Clann had completed a fairytale victory.
Final score: Clann na nGael 4-15 St. Brigid’s 1-12
Teams and Scorers
Clann na nGael: Ronan O’Reilly; Dara Pettit, Stephen Flynn, Ronan Gavin; Jack Connaughton, Graham Pettit, Shane Pettit; Ultan Harney (0-1), Cathal Shine (0-1); Emmet Kenny, Donal Shine (1-7, 1-0 pen, 0-4 frees, 0-2 ‘45s), David Connaughton, David McManus, Ciarán Lennon (1-3), Jamie Fahy (0-2).
Subs used: Fergal Lennon for D Pettit (2, b/c), Cathal Callinan (1-1) for D Connaughton (27), Jonathan Dunning (1-0) for McManus (38), Cian McManus for Kenny (47), Ross Naughton for Fahy (56), Sea Henry for S Flynn (56).
St. Brigid’s: Shane Mannion; Ronan Stack, Peter Domican, Darragh Sheehy; Gearoid Cunniffe, Niall McInerney, Ian Kilbride; Mark Daly (0-2), Conor Murray; Eamonn Cunnane, Brian Stack (0-1), Garvan Dolan (0-2, 0-2 frees); Padraig Kelly (0-1), Senan Kilbride (1-6, 0-4 frees), Eoin Sheehy.
Subs used: Eddie Nolan for Murray (h/t), David Cunniffe for Cunnane (47), Brian Derwin for E Sheehy (60).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (St. Faithleach’s).