Ladies from Brigids saunter to their own three-in-a-row

Percy French Hotel Ladies SFC Final St. Brigids 2-12 Padraig Pearses 1-2 The women of St. Brigids commenced a spectacular and memorable weekend for the Kiltoom GAA club with victory in the Percy French Hotel Roscommon Ladies Senior Football Final at Knockcroghery on Saturday evening.   A superb performance from the club’s stellar half-forward line overpowered Padraig Pearses in the opening 20 minutes and by half-time victory was assured for the champions. Áine O’Brien, Claire Grehan and Gráinne Cunniffe seized control of the fixture in the opening quarter for St. Brigids and scored all of their team’s 1-8 in the first half. Grehan particularly impressed at centre half-forward and controlled the pace and nature of the play throughout the game.   This is St. Brigids’ third successive county championship and Roscommon GAA aficionados will remember it in years to come as the best of its generation. Established last year as the strongest team in the county, their three-in-a-row achievement secures the team’s place in the history books. These ladies must now concentrate their efforts on dominating ladies’ football on a national level; their position in Roscommon been consolidated this week. Padraig Pearses too can take heart from this match. Notwithstanding the undiluted dominance of the winners the game represents progression for the Taughmaconnell club that has been redeveloping at this grade in recent months. This is a very young Pearses team and qualification for this county final was a solid achievement.  The loss of Jenny Downey to injury was a fatal blow for the losers. She is the club’s best player and was sorely missed by her team-mates on Saturday. Next year will be different for Padraig Pearses: these girls will be older and wiser and they will be better for the experience of this final. Stephanie Carty’s point for Pearses after two minutes gave her team the lead for the only time in the game, with St. Brigids settling into a confident stride from the beginning of the match. With Claire Grehan pulling the strings from her number 11 berth and the Kiltoom team dominating at midfield, wing-forwards O’Brien and Cunniffe took off from the beginning and by the end of the half the two girls had scored 1-5. Accurate, fluent, passing was a feature of the Brigids’ performance; O’Brien’s second point in the 16 th minute came after a series of passes involving Claire Kelly, Jenny Conlon and Gráinne Cunniffe. Cunniffe’s second point – in the 19 th minute – came at the end of a similar move: a smart move that featured Grehan, Clíodhna McHugh, Laura Harrison and the scorer herself. Two well-timed goals were important for the champions: Áine O’Brien’s 21-metre lob after 15 minutes established a definitive lead for St. Brigids and McHugh’s goal eight minutes from the end killed off the fixture. O’Brien’s was the better of the two: the talented number 10 received an incisive pass from her half-back line, turned her direct opponent and executed a delightful finish from what is a considerable distance. Players who did well: Every St. Brigids player performed well on Saturday in Knockcoghery. For the victors Michelle Walsh, Claire Shanagher, the three half-forwards, Fiona Gavin and Cliodhna McHugh will all remember this game with great pride. Carmel Killeen and Stephanie Carty were amongst Pearses’ better performers. Player of the match: Áine O’Brien played spectacularly well in this success for her club. Scoring 1-4 from play, the right half-forward was consistently industrious and incisive for the county champions. St. Brigids: Sarah Finnerty; Aisling McHugh, Fiona Gavin, Sarah Kelly (0-1); Michelle Walsh, Catherine Kilcommins, Claire Kelly; Mary Beades, Claire Shanagher; Áine O’Brien (1-4), Claire Grehan (0-3, frees), Gráinne Cunniffe (0-2, 0-1 free); Jenny Conlon (0-1), Laura Harrison, Clíodhna McHugh (1-0). Subs used: Brigetta Menton for Beades (inj., 8 mins.); Beades for Menton (46 mins.); Christine O’Malley for Kilcommons (50 mins); Kara Dolan for Conlon (57 mins.); Sarah Staunton (0-1) for Harrison (57 mins.). Padraig Pearses: Katie Moran; Helen Kenny, Mary Dolan, Carmel Killeen; Éilish Kelly, Ursula Brooks, Carol Costello; Olivia Keogh, Suzanne Costello; Áine Hogan, Deirdre Sweeney, Stephanie Carty (0-1); Breda Carty, Michelle Ryan, Aoife McDonnell. Subs used: Éilish Finneran (1-1) for Breda Carty (32 mins.); Sarah Glynn for Suzanne Costello; Paula Kelly for Keogh (46 mins.); Sinéad Raftery for Brooks (50 mins.). Referee: Vivian Hardiman.