Clann are cream of the crop

Last Sunday was a proud and momentous day for everyone connected with the Clann na nGael club.

It has been a long 19 years but the relief and emotion displayed after the county final out on the pitch by the club’s loyal supporters showed what this win meant to everyone in the club and the parish.

It is not by chance that this title win happened. It is the culmination of much hard work over the years at underage level and plenty of graft on the training ground.

While many people would say that Clann were fortunate enough last Sunday to win the title, I believed all year that if any team beat St. Brigid’s they deserved to win the county title. Clann would have felt extremely disappointed if they had beaten Brigid’s and not gone on to win the final.

Paul Curran and his management team of Paul Whyte and Fergal Shine deserve great credit for overcoming many tough times this year and bringing about the turnaround at a critical juncture that saw them win this title.

A few months back Clann were anything but favourites to win this crown. This was not a classic by any means but then again it was never going to be, given what was at stake for both these inexperienced teams.

Clann have a very youthful squad and they will hope that this is the beginning of a new era for the club. But that is not a given as there are many clubs in the county who are bursting to get in to the picture and to have a chance of winning a county title.

Clann gave a patchy performance last Sunday but they improved in the second half. Cathal Shine was magnificent and he was ably assisted by a strong back division where Graham Pettit was immense.

His relocation to full-back has been a masterstroke by the Clann management. The youthful half-back line of Jack Connaughton, Shane Pettit and Fergal Lennon looks very exciting.

Clann struggled up front but Donie Shine, despite carrying an injury made a vital contribution and his goal was coolness personified.

Ultan Harney made some vital contributions and Johnny Dunning gave a wholehearted display as captain.

For Padraig Pearses this must have been a devastating result. They left their shooting boots at home, especially in the first half, and will ponder over the winter so many what ifs about this final.

But there is no doubt that they have plenty of very good footballers and they will be serious contenders again next year.

Davy Murray and the three Daly brothers were again to the fore and Shane Carty improved things greatly after half time.

However, their old failings up front came back to haunt them. To expect Hubert Darcy as a minor to be their main man up front was asking too much, even though he looks a great prospect.

Adam McManus now knows that to be a goalkeeper is not an easy position. He was a hero at half-time after a brilliant save from Johnny Dunning but he turned to villain when he lost possession in the lead-up to the goal. He will be a better player if he learns from this experience.

Being out on the fields after the game reminded me of my playing days. You were not just part of a team, you were part of a whole parish and everyone has something to bring to the table.

The same thing happens in every club and parish and that is why the GAA continues to thrive in these competitive times.

No easy way out

Finally, I hear everyone remarking that Roscommon have got a great draw for the Connacht Championship in 2016.

Somehow I seem to recall that the exact same thing was being said last year and it only seems to motivate the opposition further.

The present management will no doubt feel that avoiding Mayo in the first round is helpful but there are no easy matches in the championship unless you are proved winners.

Our record in recent years has not been good and there nothing to be complacent about. So-called lesser teams love nothing more than to beat Roscommon in the championship.

The championship is a long way off yet when you see the draw, the memory of this year’s championship fades and everyone looks forward to 2016.