Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC Play-Off
St. Brigid’s 1-6
Western Gaels 0-8
The tendency in recent years of Western Gaels to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to big championship games came to the fore again last Sunday at Dr. Hyde Park when they were pipped at the post by a resurgent St. Brigid’s in the play-off for a quarter-final spot. On the balance of play the Gaels should have at least got a share of the spoils but they spurned several gilt-edged chances, including a missed penalty in the 35th minute.
That’s not to take away from a Brigid’s side who are now into a quarter-final and after a poor start to the championship they will go into their clash with Pádraig Pearses as the underdogs which will suit them fine.
This was a very poor game played in terrible conditions with driving rain falling throughout. Brigid’s held their nerve in a very tense last 15 minutes as the Gaels’ efforts to draw level got more desperate as the final whistle got closer. The biggest cheer of the day greeted Senan Kilbride, who came on as a sub in the 43rd minute after his recent illness, and indeed his trademark point in the 59th minute turned out to be a match-winner.
There were only two points in the opening 14 minutes, from a Brian Stack free and a Kevin Higgins effort from 25 metres. Then Brigid’s struck for the only goal of the game at the end of the first quarter. Eddie Nolan made a great run, passed to Ciaran Sugrue who in turn found Paul McGrath who fisted home. It gave Brigid’s a lead they were never to lose.
Points from Brian Stack (free), Eddie Nolan, and Brian Derwin in the second quarter completed Brigid’s first-half scoring with Niall Higgins (two frees) and Kevin Higgins on target for Western Gaels. Half-time score St. Brigid’s 1-4 Western Gaels 0-4.
Could Western Gaels up the ante on the resumption? It looked like they had done just that when the previously subdued Cathal Cregg pointed from 30 metres. Then the big chance they got to take a grip on proceedings arrived three minutes later. John Duffy’s long ball into the danger area was fielded by Niall Higgins and referee Aaron Clogher adjudged that he was fouled and it was a Gaels’ penalty. Up stepped Niall Higgins himself but Brigid’s stand-in goalkeeper Seamus Smith (on for the injured James Martin at half-time) made a brilliant save. There was only one more score in the third quarter, a pointed free from Niall Higgins, and that narrowed the gap to a point (1-4 to 0-6).
Both sides were missing chances and the Gaels were becoming increasingly anxious as the game went on. Brian Derwin and Niall Higgins exchanged pointed frees, and with the 60 minutes almost up, Senan Kilbride swung over a trademark point from play to put his side two up. Western Gaels laid siege to the Brigid’s goal but they never really fashioned a clear-cut chance except in the 66th minute when Tommy Devine swung his boot at a loose ball and it flew over the crossbar. It was too little too late for the Gaels though and they will be scratching their heads this week at what happened after they had scored 3-16 against Boyle the previous week.
For Brigid’s, they will look on a quarter-final against Pearses as a bonus and they will be gaining in confidence. Pearse Frost, Alan Daly, Eddie Nolan. Brian Derwin and Brian Stack all played well and the return of Senan Kilbride is a huge boost to them. For a very disappointing Gaels side Ciaran Cafferky, Kevin Higgins and Niall Higgins were best.
St. Brigid’s: James Martin; Pearse Frost, Niall McInerney, Peter Domican; Ronan Stack, Alan Daly, Gearoid Cunniffe; Ian Kilbride, Eddie Nolan (0-1); Padraig Kelly, Paul McGrath (1-0), Eoin Sheehy; Brian Derwin (0-3, 2 frees), Brian Stack (0-1), Ciaran Sugrue. Subs: Seamus Smith for Martin (h/t), Senan Kilbride (0-1) for Sugrue (43), Conor Gleeson for Cunniffe (58), Mark Daly for Sheehy (59), Gavin Byrne for Daly (66).
Western Gaels: Derek Moran; Sean Conry, Aidan Dowd, Brian Cafferky; Barry Creighton, Seanie McDermott, Ciaran Cafferky; Finbar Cregg, Kevin Higgins (0-2); James McDonnell, John Duffy, Tommy Gill; Tommy Devine (0-1), Cathal Cregg (0-1), Niall Higgins (0-4, all frees). Subs: Brian Casserly for F Cregg (h/t), Luke Hester for Duffy (h/t), Jack Higgins for Gill (60).
Referee: Aaron Clogher