Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC (Section A)
St. Brigid’s 2-12
Western Gaels 2-12
When these two sides met in Frenchpark in 2017 it was the best game of the entire senior championship. While this latest clash in Athleague may not have been as exciting, there was plenty of incident and excitement for the small attendance to enjoy last Sunday.
Brigid’s were on fire in the opening quarter, and they led by seven points by the 19th minute. But the Gaels reeled them in and in fact it was Brigid’s who had to dig deep for the equaliser when Gearoid Cunniffe hooked over a point from 25 metres in the fourth minute of injury-time.
Senan Kilbride and Brian Stack caused mayhem in the Gaels’ defence in the opening exchanges. Kilbride scored a peach of a goal in the 6th minute after a superb body swerve and he then provided Brian Stack with the pass for a second goal in the 9th minute. Two points from young Stack saw Brigid’s lead by 2-4 to 0-3 after 19 minutes.
But Western Gaels re-adjusted and cut off the supply line to Kilbride and their fortunes improved dramatically. Great work from Aidan Dowd and James McDonnell set up Tommy Gill for a superb team goal in the 21st minute and three unanswered points from Kevin Higgins and Niall Higgins (2 frees) meant there was only a point between the sides at half-time: St. Brigid’s 2-6 Western Gaels 1-8.
Three of the first four points of the second half went the way of St. Brigids and by the 40th minute they led by 2-9 to 1-9. But then two converted frees from sub Derek Moran and a very well taken goal from another sub, Barry Creighton, saw the Frenchpark men two ahead towards the end of the third quarter.
The exchanges became increasingly fraught as the finishing line came into view. The teams became frustrated with several refereeing calls as every ball was fought with gusto. Padraig Kelly landed two frees for Brigid’s, and by the 51st minute the sides were level.
In the 60th minute Derek Moran landed a 40 metre free and then two separate Brigid’s efforts, from Senan and Ian Kilbride, struck woodwork in injury-time. Just when it looked that the Gaels had held out, wily old veteran Cunniffe (on as a sub) came to the champions’ rescue. The result keeps both sides in the hunt for the play-offs.