Cathal’s class secures another goal-den win

O’Rourke Cup Final St. Brigids                2-7 Kilmore                    0-7 St. Brigids’ domination of Roscommon club football was further emphasised last Sunday when they added the Abbey Hotel  O’Rourke Cup (Senior Football League) to the many other titles that they have won at all grades this year when they had six points to spare over Kilmore in a decider that was played in freezing cold, wet and windy conditions at Kilmore.   When you consider that this win was achieved with just seven of the players who started the recent Connacht Club final against Ballina, it gives an indication of the strength in depth that the Kiltoom men have at their disposal at the moment.   Kilmore gave it everything all through but they just had no answer to the cuteness and guile of players like Cathal McHugh, Senan Kilbride and John Tiernan. The home side started well and were by far the better team in the first quarter when they were playing against the strong wind – but once St. Brigids began to find their range there was only ever going to be one winner.   St. Brigids lined out without Mark O’Carroll, Karol Mannion, Frankie Dolan, David O’Connor, Niall Grehan, Enda Ruane and Garvan Dolan and their rearranged team saw Ian Kilbride come in at centre half-back with John Tiernan partnering Robbie Gilligan at midfield. However the difference between the teams were the two lethal St. Brigids forwards, Senan Kilbride and Cathal McHugh, who brought their excellent form all season long into this, the final game of the year.   In contrast Kilmore fielded with a full team, except for Alan Glancy, who replaced Kevin Caslin in goal – and it was the home side who adapted better to the very harsh conditions.    Playing into the strong wind and rain, Kilmore were ahead inside the first minute when Derek Connellan fired over a 25-metre free. Three minutes later Paul Garvey grabbed an excellent point for the home side. Brigids were struggling to get into the game and in the 9th minute Connellan was on target with another free, this time from 20 metres.   However Brigids were slowly awakening from their slumber and they started to kick the ball long into Senan Kilbride, with the result that their fortunes improved immediately. The talented full-forward kicked two great points (one a free) to narrow the gap to one by the 13th minute, and although Connellan restored the Kilmore lead to two points with a 16th minute free from 13 metres, Brigids were assuming control.   Padraig Kelly kicked a long-range point for the Kiltoom men before Cathal McHugh scored a peach of a goal in the 21st minute.    Senan Kilbride fielded a long clearance 55 metres from goal and his brilliant pass found McHugh inside the Kilmore defence. In keeping with his excellent play all year, he didn’t need a second invitation to plant the balll in the opposition net.    Then Cormac Sheehy grabbed a 28th minute point from play and Brigids went in leading by three points at half-time, 1-4 to 0-4.   Kilmore needed to start the second half well to get back into the game but alas for them it was Brigids who got the tonic of a good start. Five minutes in, in a move that contained 12 passes and involved seven players, Brigids worked the ball into McHugh and the lethal corner-forward blasted home again. After that it was all over.   Cormac Sheehy made it 2-5 to 0-4 after eight minutes with another good point and Kilmore’s task was even greater now. They deserve great credit for sticking to their task though. Derek Connellan, Pat Caslin and Gary Connellan scored points without reply to narrow the gap to four with ten minutes left and the big home crowd roared on their side in the hope that they could maintain their comeback.    However Brigids are just too experienced and they fought hard to preserve their lead. In the final three minutes they grabbed late insurance points from Kilbride and McHugh to seal a great win  and another title for the club.    This win brings down the curtain on a very good season for St. Brigids in Roscommon where they are now the dominant football force. That they achieved this final win without so many of their stars is an indication of their strength in depth.   I know that the defeat in Ballina still wrankles with them and it will take them a while to get over it but if they show the same application in 2008 as they have shown in recent years they will be a very, very hard team to beat again.    In this game their stars were Ian Kilbride, Robbie Kelly, Robbie Gilligan, John Tiernan and the lethal attacking duo of Senan Kilbride and Cathal McHugh, who terrorised the Kilmore defence all day. For a gallant Kilmore side, Shane Sharkey, Gary Connellan, Don Connellan, Emmet Flood and Pat Caslin were their best players. Footnote: I was most impressed with the fantastic set-up that the Kilmore club have now. Their dressingroom/clubhouse complex is a credit to them and one of the best in the county. Thanks also to the people at the club for the much-needed cup of tea at half-time. It was much appreciated on a terrible day of weather! St Brigids: James Martin; Robbie Kelly, Darragh Donnelly, Gary McHugh; Peter Domican, Ian Kilbride, Eoin Mannion; John Tiernan, Robbie Gilligan; Gearoid Cunniffe, Dara Blaine, Padraig Kelly (0-1); Cormac Sheehy (0-2), Senan Kilbride (0-3), Cathal McHugh (2-1). Sub: Darren Dolan for Cunniffe. Kilmore: Alan Glancy; Liam Caslin, Donal Carroll, Paul Beirne; Colm Garvey, Brendan Burke, Shane Sharkey; Diarmiud Garvey, Don Connellan; Gary Connellan (0-1), Emmet Flood, Derek Connellan (0-4); Paul Garvey (0-1), Pat Caslin (0-1), Ray Caslin. Subs Emmet Glancy for Flood, Damien Tiernan for Liam Caslin, Padraig King for Paul Garvey. Referee: Vivian Hardiman.