Brigids put crown on line

AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final: St. Brigid’s (Roscommon) v Killererin (Galway). Sunday at 2.00 pm in Tuam Stadium. County champions St. Brigid’s begin the defence of their Connacht senior football club championship crown this Sunday afternoon when they face Killererin of Galway in Tuam Stadium at two o’clock.  St. Brigid’s have prepared solidly for this contest since victory in the county final against St. Faithleach’s. Jack O’Connor of Kerry was present in Kiltoom at a St. Brigid’s training session in recent days. The club will benefit from the return of David ‘Jimmy Nail’ O’Connor, who resumed training after the county final. Huge efforts will be required from all of the St. Brigid’s players in what promises to be an enthralling championship contest with a football team that is vastly experienced at this level. Killererin is famous as the home of three-times All Star Padraig Joyce who will line out at centre half-forward for the Galway champions on Sunday. Nicky Joyce, Jonathan Keane, goalkeeper Alan Keane, Ian Reddington, Tommy Fahy, and Tommie Joyce are some of the other luminaries whose skills will focus the attention of St. Brigid’s on Sunday. Killererin defeated Milltown in the final of the Galway championship by one point two weeks ago and overcame a fancied NUI Galway team in the county semi-final. Massive celebrations attended St. Brigid’s victory in last year’s Connacht club final and hopes are high for a successive championship. St. Brigid’s have no major injury concern going into this game and the people of Kiltoom will hope that the free-flowing style that yielded a third successive county championship will be employed in this Connacht semi-final. Killererin were fortunate to overcome Milltown in the Galway final and were criticised afterwards for relying too heavily on Padraig Joyce for scores. Beware those who take this as a sign that the Killererin team is a one-trick pony: the Galway team boasts several potent attackers. Nicky Joyce was the best forward in Connacht by some distance this year and he links up well with his cousin for Killererin. Free-flowing, fluent, football is the hallmark of a St. Brigid’s team that cruised to success in Roscommon this summer. Frankie Dolan, Karol Mannion, John Tiernan, Cathal McHugh, Senan Kilbride, Ian Kilbride, Daragh Blaine, and Robert Kelly are the paragons of the Kiltoom team, and these players are allowed to express their wonderful talents by manager Anthony Cunningham.  The return of Frankie Dolan to the Roscommon fold this autumn will buoy St. Brigid’s. Dolan played exceptionally well for his club in the county championship and he will relish the chance to demonstrate his talents on the provincial stage on Sunday. The St. Brigid’s captain delights in seizing control of big games and he will confidently take the game to Joyce and Killererin in Tuam Stadium. Nicky Joyce, Padraig Joyce, Jonathan Keane, and Tommy Fahy have combined to attack with deadly efficiency at various stages this year. Their effectiveness has been intermittent, however: Killererin scored 1-7 in the first half of the Galway final but failed to score during a 25 minute barren spell in the second half of that game. Anthony Cunningham is blessed with a consistent attack; and St. Brigid’s will win if they attack unswervingly on Sunday. Sunday will be a huge test for the St. Brigid’s half-back line. Peter Domican has attacked with splendid abandon all year from his position on the wing, but Keane’s constant movement and incisive running will curb his attacking strength in this semi-final. Ian Kilbride has been at six for St. Brigid’s this year and he will enjoy the least envious task of the day if Killererin elect to deploy Padraig Joyce at centre half-forward.  An appearance in a Connacht final with either Ballina (Mayo) or Tourlestrane (Sligo) awaits the victor of this match. Killererin will be determined to qualify for the final and thus salvage what has been an indifferent year for Galway at senior level. A St. Brigid’s team that is firing on all cylinders is strong enough to overpower all opposition in the province however. There is an intense belief in Kiltoom that 2008 is St. Brigid’s great chance to make history on St. Patrick’s Day. Sunday in Tuam Stadium is one of the challenges that must be overcome on the odyssey to Croke Park. Expect the Roscommon champions to win a tremendously exciting match. Roscommon People prediction: St. Brigid’s.