Form and experience suggests St Brigid’s will prolong Boyle’s long wait for glory

Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon SFC Final:
Boyle v St Brigid’s on Sunday in Dr Hyde Park at 2.30 pm

Despite the change in the format of the championship this year, two of the teams that most people would have chosen as possible finalists will contest this year’s Hodson Bay Hotel Roscommon senior football final at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday. Boyle hadn’t been in a final in 95 years before last year and now they are back again – and on merit too.

It’s no surprise that St Brigid’s are also there. Even before a ball was kicked this season, they were installed as the favourites to regain the Fahey Cup. If anything, they have enhanced their reputation with a number of excellent displays en route to the final.

Boyle will have been chastened by last year’s heartbreaking defeat by Strokestown, but it is to their great credit that they have battled their way back to the final this year. It’s an even better achievement when one considers that they conceded six goals in the first half of their opening match against Roscommon Gaels. They have recovered from that nightmare to play some super football during the campaign.

St Brigid’s

St. Brigid’s’ Shane Cunnane sidesteps Roscommon Gaels’ John McManus during the recent Roscommon SFC semi-final in Dr Hyde Park. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

The St Brigid’s team is sprinkled with superb players in every line. Cormac Sheehy is now the goalkeeper for the Kiltoom club, having switched from his outfield role. He hasn’t put a foot wrong so far in this championship. It is so impressive to note that Brigid’s have not conceded a goal in the run-up to this final. It’s a testament to a defence marshalled by the brilliant Brian Stack at full-back. Outside him, his older brother Ronan is playing as well as ever.

Luke Griselain and Pearse Frost have taken to senior club football like ducks to water. Ruaidhri Fallon and Paul McGrath, two young players with plenty of championship experience, are also playing well. The Brigid’s defence looks strong, although they will be tested on Sunday by a very talented Boyle attack.

Eddie Nolan and Shane Cunnane have been improving at midfield and their clash with Roch Hanmore and Enda Smith (or Cathal Feely) will have a huge bearing on the outcome.

Up front, Brigid’s’ talisman is Ben O’Carroll. He has been having a superb championship, but it is certainly not a one-man attack. Robbie Dolan, Conor Hand, Bobby Nugent and Ciaran Sugrue have all been prominent and there are several other talented players to join the action if any players underperform. The Brigid’s attack has played some fantastic football in this championship and the Boyle defence will have to perform to their maximum to keep them at bay.

Boyle

Boyle’s Niall O’Donnell in action during the recent Roscommon SFC semi-final between Boyle and Padraig Pearses in Dr Hyde Park. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Boyle now have a very settled team. Robert Kearney is a very reliable goalkeeper, while outside him I have been very impressed by the Boyle full-back line of youngsters Daniel Casey and Luke Glennon, flanked by the very experienced Killian Cox.

Marc O’Connor has stepped in to replace the injured Seanie Purcell and has done very well in the half-back line alongside Tadhg McKenna and Oisin Cregg.

Everyone knows the quality that Boyle have up front, with Enda and Donie Smith, Cian McKeon, Daire Cregg and Cathal Feely all key men. They have been racking up big scores.

There was a time when Boyle depended on their attack to get them through big championship games, but they have become far more streetwise, especially this year. When they needed to shut up shop against Padraig Pearses in the semi-final they did it very effectively – and they may have to do that again on Sunday.

Verdict

St Brigid’s have answered every question asked of them this year so far. They are a young and very talented team that has played some fantastic football. They feel they left the title behind them the past two years and are determined to get their hands on the Fahey Cup again.

Most neutrals would love to see Boyle win their first title in 96 years. They have a number of magnificent players who deserve to win a county senior club medal.

On form, and based what we have seen in the campaign so far, it is impossible to ignore the claims of this Brigid’s team. It may well be another frustrating day for Boyle on Sunday.

Prediction: St Brigid’s.