AIB All-Ireland Club SF semi-final:
St Brigid’s v Castlehaven on Sunday in Semple Stadium at 1.45 pm
It may be hard to believe, but it is 11 years since Frankie Dolan’s injury-time point gave St Brigid’s their historic All-Ireland senior club title win. Now the club has a great chance of getting to another final when they take on Cork and Munster champions Castlehaven at Semple Stadium this Sunday.
As we have seen in Roscommon and in Connacht, St Brigid’s are capable of playing some superb football and if they can produce a display close to their best they have a great chance of appearing in the All-Ireland final against Kilmacud or Glen at the end of the month.
Castlehaven won their 6th Cork SFC title by beating Nemo Rangers by 0-11 to 0-9 and in the Munster final they famously won on penalties against Dingle after a titanic battle in atrocious conditions.
They are managed by James McCarthy and have several well-known names in their ranks. Damien Cahalane was the hero in the Munster final as not only did the centre half-back go into goal for the penalty shootout, he saved a penalty and then went on to score the winning penalty as well.
Probably Castlehaven’s best player is Cork regular Brian Hurley who plays at centre half-forward or full-forward and is an excellent finisher. Brian Stack will expect to have marking duties on Sunday against Hurley.
There are five Cahalanes on the panel, and Rory Maguire and Michael Hurley also have county experience and of course the club have some legends of the game from the past like Larry Tomkins and Niall Cahalane. They have displayed a lot of resilience and tenacity in the championship so far and Brigid’s will have to be at their very best to defeat them.
St Brigid’s have shown that their young team is very talented and at their best they are a super side. The likes of Pearse Frost, Ruaidhri Fallon, Paul McGrath, Shane Cunnane, Ciaran Sugrue, Ben O’Carroll, Robbie Dolan, Conor Hand, Bobby Nugent and Brian Derwin are young, talented players who will have a stage to show what they can do this Sunday.
When you add the experience of Cormac Sheehy, Ronan Stack, Eddie Nolan and Alan Daly into the mix it looks a very formidable Brigid’s team.
The wide, open spaces of Semple Stadium should suit Jerome Stack’s men and if the day is reasonable weather-wise, they have a great chance of progressing to the final if they can find their best form. It will be close, as most games are at this time of the year, but I think Brigid’s can progress to the final.
Prediction: St Brigid’s
Note: Both Sunday’s senior semi-finals will be shown live on TG4. The St Brigid’s v Castlehaven match is at 1.45 pm while the Kilmacud v Glen game from Newry will be at 3.45 pm