Roscommon SFC Semi-Final: St. Brigid’s 2-6 Western Gaels 0-10
Seasoned championship watchers will tell you that semi-finals are all about winning and that certainly applies to this hard fought second semi-final played at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday.
In truth this was a poor game, not helped by some strange refereeing decisions, and Brigid’s had to fight all the way to secure their final spot. Indeed, Western Gaels missed goal chances that could have given them the win but having won six out of the last seven titles, Brigid’s know what’s required to win a tight game and they did it again here.
When the champions led by 1-2 to no score after only seven minutes it looked as if it would be a torrid evening for Western Gaels but Brigid’s strangely lost their way after that. Their shooting was poor and Western Geals got a foothold with Finbar Cregg’s free taking saw them within two at half-time. Brigid’s needed some harsh words at the break and it was evident early in the second half there was far more urgency about them. The hugely talented Brian Stack, who was quiet in the first period, was switched to midfield and he began to influence the game from there.
A second Brigid’s goal would always be crucial and sure enough it came after 39 minutes. Eoin Sheehy did the spadework and it was finished brilliantly by young Stack. Despite playing with the wind, Western Gaels now had a mountain to climb. Brigid’s had improved and were proving difficult to break down. Leading by six by the third period, they were in control but following Senan Kilbride’s free in the 48th minute, they didn’t score for the remainder as Western Gaels tried desperately to find a way back.
Kevin Higgins, Finbar Cregg and Cathal Cregg all had chances but the Brigid’s defence answered almost every call. The margin was reducing but the goal the Gaels needed just wouldn’t come and Brigid’s held on to qualify for a first final against Roscommon Gaels since 1969.
It may not have been one of the greatest games in history but that will not bother Brigid’s as they set their sights on another title. Shane Mannion, Niall McInerney, Ian Kilbride, Eoin Sheehy, Cathal McHugh (first half) and Brian Stack (second half) all made vital contributions to the Kiltoom outfit’s effort but once again their star man was Padraig Kelly who was everywhere and even turned up in defence with vital blocks late on.
For Western Gaels the wait goes on. Gerard Nolan has done great work with them this year but they were just caught on the day by a St. Brigid’s side who had too much experience and ring craft.