Brigids’ bright start leaves Gaels reeling

St. Brigids                         1-14 Roscommon Gaels           1-10 The Play: The final scoreline might suggest that Roscommon Gaels really put it up to the champions St. Brigids at Dr. Hyde Park last Sunday, but in reality this was a very easy win for Brigids. The Gaels scored 1-4 in the final ten minutes of play to put a respectable look on the scoreboard but Brigids were coasting at that stage and they won through to another final very easily indeed.   The pattern in this game was very similar to that of the first semi-final. The winners came out firing on all cylinders, racked up a huge score by half-time, and eased back on the accelerator in the second half. The Gaels deserve credit for not giving up until the final whistle but they were a well-beaten team a long time before this disappointing semi-final was over.   There was a sensational start to the game. From the throw-in Karol Mannion fielded the ball and passed to Senan Kilbride who transferred the ball to Cathal McHugh who blasted to the Gaels net. There was 12 seconds on the clock for one of the quickest goals in Roscommon SFC history and it was a blow that the Gaels never really recovered from.   Brigids assumed total control after that and with Mannion and Mark O’Carroll on top in midfield and Frankie Dolan conducting the orchestra at centre half-forward, Brigids poured forward. Robbie Gaynor did get a point back for the Gaels in the 7th minute but it was an isolated effort for the town team.   Points from Jimmy ‘Nail’ O’Connor (2) and Senan Kilbride helped make it 1-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes and although John McHale scored a 20-metre free for the Gaels in the 13th minute that was to be their final score of the half.   The Gaels had two half-chances of goals which were cleared by the Brigids defence but it was mostly one-way traffic towards the Gaels goal. Frankie Dolan kicked a 25-metre free in the 25th minute before O’Connor and Dolan extended Brigids’ lead even further and when Darragh Blaine scored two points from play (one a goal chance) before half-time it left it St. Brigids 1-8 Roscommon Gaels 0-2 at half-time.   Things looked even worse for the Gaels at the break as Eoin Coll had to retire after he sustained a nasty-looking injury on the stroke of the half-time whistle being sounded.     Those of us who were hoping for a Gaels onslaught at the start of the second half were to be disappointed. Gerry Kelly did have a goal chance in the 3rd minute but his shot flew over the Brigids crossbar. But it was the Kiltoon men who were on top. Jimmy ‘Nail’ and Blaine added points to make it 1-10 to 0-3 by the 8th minute.   Karol Mannion and McHale (free) exchanged scores before Mark O’Carroll and Brendan O’Brien extended Brigids’ lead with two fisted points by the 17th minute. It was now 1-13 to 0-5 and the game was effectively over as a contest.   However the Gaels stuck to their task. Cian O’Brien kicked three fine points in a row by the 25th minute and a minute later, the Gaels were awarded a penalty which John Nolan blasted to the net. Then when Robbie Gaynor kicked another good point from play a minute later there was only four in it.   The defending champions had however done enough and sub Kenny Noonan and the Gaels’ Gaynor exchanged points in injury-time to leave four points in it in the end. It was a scoreline that flattered the Gaels and even their most ardent supporters would agree that they were well beaten on the day.   Brigids were impressive at times but they will not want to ease up against St. Faithleachs in the final in the manner which they did in this game. However they were most impressive when in full flight.    So it’s St. Brigids v St. Faithleachs in the 2007 Roscommon SFC final (a repeat of last year) and having watched almost every game in the senior championship this year I have no doubt that the two best teams in the county are in the decider.   St. Brigids: Shane Curran; Enda Ruane, Ger Ahern, Robbie Kelly; Peter Domican, Ian Kilbride, Donal O’Connor; Mark O’Carroll (0-1), Karol Mannion (0-1); John Tiernan, Frankie Dolan (0-2), Darragh Blaine (0-3); David O’Connor (0-4), Senan Kilbride (0-1), Cathal McHugh (1-0). Subs: Brendan O’Brien (0-1) for Blaine, Padraig Kilcommins for Donal O’Connor, Kenny Noonan (0-1) for Ruane, Conor McHugh for Cathal McHugh. Roscommon Gaels: Enda Daly; Martin O’Keeffe, Brian McNeela, Kevin Kilcline; John Nolan (1-0), Niall Moran, Michael Ryan; James McDermott, Gerry Kelly (0-1); John McHale (0-3), David O’Gara, Eoin Coll; Cian O’Brien (0-3), Robbie Gaynor (0-3), James Comiskey. Subs: Paul Gleeson for O’Keeffe, Dara O’Gara for Coll, Ollie McGuinness for Kelly, Danny Costello for McHale. Referee: Ciaran Madigan. Players who did well: For St. Brigids, Enda Ruane, Peter Domican, Mark O’Carroll, Karol Mannion, Frankie Dolan, Darragh Blaine and Cathal McHugh impressed. For Roscommon Gaels, Brian McNeela, sub Paul Gleeson, David O’Gara, Robbie Gaynor and James Comiskey did well.  Man of the match: St. Brigids had a lot of excellent players on the day but the award goes to Frankie Dolan who has now changed his role from a score-getter to a score creator. He led his team well from centre half-forward and some of his passing was top class, Dolan finding his man with almost every long range kicked pass. A top class display.