‘Game of the Weekend’
Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC (Group A)
St Brigid’s 0-14 Strokestown 1-7
When the returning Cathal Campton was shown a straight red card by referee Brendan Healy after only five minutes of this very competitive Group A match in Strokestown on Friday night last, it looked as if the home side’s chances of a badly-needed win were gone up in smoke. To their credit, Strokestown battled all the way to the finish and were only overhauled in the final ten minutes by a St. Brigid’s side who had more strength on the bench when it was needed.
On a mild, breezy evening, both sides knew that a win would probably put them into the quarter-finals. Strokestown named a strong side in their quest to put their opening round defeat by Elphin behind them. Two minutes after Ciaran Sugrue opened the scoring with a St. Brigid’s free in the 3rd minute, Strokestown and Roscommon midfielder Cathal Compton was involved in a tangle with Alan Daly, the latter going to ground. After consulting his linesman, the referee issued a straight red card to Compton. Now the task facing Strokestown was an even bigger one.
St. Brigid’s went on to dominate for the next 10 minutes or so with Gearoid Cunniffe kicking two super points to help them into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead. Then, in the 16th minute, Strokestown got back into the game. Diarmuid McGann made a great run towards goal before being fouled by a combination of St. Brigid’s defenders. David Neary slotted the resultant penalty past James Martin.
The goal gave Strokestown a big boost and from that point on they were very competitive. Sean Mullooly and David Neary were winning plenty of ball, and by half-time the home side led by 1-4 to 0-6. Indeed it could have been even more as McGann’s goal-bound shot was blocked brilliantly on the line by Alan Daly in injury-time.
The sides were well matched for most of the second half, with young Ben O’Carroll kicking a couple of great points for the Kiltoom side. However, points from Colin Compton (2) and Cian Corcoran kept Strokestown in the match and with just ten minutes to go the sides were level at 1-7 to 0-10.
Key to the eventual outcome was the fact that St. Brigid’s had more to offer off the bench. Robbie Dolan, Jack McDonnell and Eoin Sheehy all made significant contributions when they were introduced, with the excellent Brian Stack now pulling the strings around midfield.
Points from Brian Derwin (2), Eoin Sheehy and Ben O’Carroll closed out the win for St. Brigid’s, who will now face Elphin in the final group game. Strokestown will now have to beat Clann na nGael to avoid a relegation battle.
Best for St. Brigid’s on the night were Peter Domican, Pearse Frost, Brian Stack, Gearoid Cunniffe and young guns Ben O’Carroll, Ciaran Sugrue and sub Brian Derwin. David Neary had a great game for Strokestown and Colin Compton, Kevin Finn and Sean Mullooly were also prominent throughout.
Note: The victory by Clann na nGael against Elphin on Saturday means that with a round still to go, Strokestown are now out of contention for a quarter-final slot. They will now have to battle it out to avoid relegation.
St. Brigid’s: James Martin; Darragh Sheehy, Peter Domican, Pearse Frost; Alan Daly, Ronan Stack, Paul McGrath; Eamon Cunnane, Ruari Fallon; Brian Stack, Donnacha Gately, Gearoid Cunniffe (0-2); Ciaran Sugrue (0-3, frees), Senan Kilbride (0-1), Ben O’Carroll (0-3). Subs: Robbie Dolan for Sheehy (39), Brian Derwin (0-4, 2 frees, mark) for O’Carroll (45), Eoin Sheehy (0-1) for Cunnane (46), Jack McDonnell for Cunniffe (55), Ruari Smith for Gately (60).
Strokestown: John McHugh; Conor Kelly, Michael Fallon, Keelan Beirne; Niall Moran, Sean Mullooly (0-1), David Neary (1-1, 1-0 pen); Cathal Compton, David Butler; Cian Corcoran (0-1), Kevin Finn, Keith Murphy; Diarmuid McGann, Colin Compton (0-4, frees), Daniel Rogers. Subs: Mikey Kavanagh for McGann (60), Luke Kelly for Corcoran (61).