Sugrue is sweet for Brigid’s

Stack’s men advance to final, but major step up needed against Corofin

AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final: St Brigid’s 1-7 Mohill 0-8

Ciaran Sugrue of St Brigid’s in action during the AIB Connacht GAA Senior Club Football Championship semi-final against Mohill in Dr Hyde Park last Sunday. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Semi-finals are all about winning, and Roscommon champions St Brigid’s did just that at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday as a Ciaran Sugrue goal proved to be the key score in a narrow win against Leitrim champions Mohill. However, they will need to play better than this if they are to have a chance against Corofin in the provincial decider in Dr Hyde Park on Sunday week.

At the end of an emotional week for the club following the untimely passing of stalwart Tommy Dolan, St Brigid’s made hard work of defeating a gritty Mohill side, the Leitrim champions well set up under the guidance of former Sligo star Eamonn O’Hara. Indeed Mohill shot some bad wides over the hour, misses which cost them dearly in the final analysis.

With Mohill making a late surge and reducing the margin to two points in injury-time, a worried Brigid’s management brought on the injured Brian Stack as the Leitrim team went in search of a potential winning goal. It was a measure of the concern that Jerome Stack and his selectors had in those final tense moments. As it was, Brigid’s had done enough to squeeze through.

With wind, and frequent rain showers too, the conditions were poor. Mohill played with the elements at their backs in the opening half. Possession was the name of the game and scores were few and far between. The sides shared four points in the opening 13 minutes. The impressive Keith Beirne scored Mohill’s two (one a free), while Bobby Nugent pointed two frees for St Brigid’s.

After Beirne had put Mohill ahead in the 15th minute, the Leitrim champions were down to 14 men two minutes later when Domhnaill Flynn was black-carded for a foul on Alan Daly. Most of the second quarter was turgid stuff, and we saw only two more scores before the break, with Jordan Reynolds on target for Mohill and Ben O’Carroll converting a close-range free for the Roscommon champions. Half-time score: Mohill 0-4 St Brigid’s 0-3.

With the wind at their backs, most observers were expecting Brigid’s to kick on and win well, but Mohill made it very difficult for them. Ruaidhri Fallon was outstanding for St Brigid’s, leading the charge with Eddie Nolan, Ciaran Sugrue and Bobby Nugent.

Ronan Stack levelled the scores with a smart point in the 36th minute (their first score from play) and when sub Brian Derwin fisted over in the 43rd minute, Brigid’s were ahead for the first time in the match.

In the 46th minute, St Brigid’s finally put together the kind of sweeping move that we have seen from them all summer in the Roscommon championship. Bobby Nugent caught Cormac Sheehy’s kick-out, and Eddie Nolan, Ronan Stack and Ben O’Carroll were all involved before Ciaran Sugrue finished it to the net.

Further points from sub John Cunningham and a converted free from Bobby Nugent saw Brigid’s five ahead (1-7 to 0-5) by the 54th minute – and looking good. But it wasn’t over yet and Mohill dug in and mounted a late revival.

Domhnaill Flynn and Conor Quinn suddenly came good at midfield and points from Quinn, Ronan Kennedy and a converted free from Keith Beirne saw the margin down to just two by the first minute of injury-time. Injured All-Star nominee Brian Stack was brought on as Mohill continued to press, looking for what would be a sensational winning goal. The St Brigid’s defence held out and they squeezed through in the end despite having Luke Griselain black-carded in the second minute of injury-time.

Cormac Sheehy’s kick-outs were top class throughout, while Pearse Frost, Ruaidhri Fallon  and Ronan Stack were excellent in defence. Eddie Nolan was the pick of the midfielders, while up front Bobby Nugent was the most impressive of the attackers. Ben O’Carroll had a quiet day by his standards, while subs Brian Derwin and John Cunningham looked good when they came on.

For a gallant Mohill side, Keith Beirne was always a danger and others to perform well for them were Sean Harkin, Domhnaill Flynn and Ronan Kennedy.

St Brigid’s are through to the Connacht decider, but on this performance they will be the underdogs against a Corofin side who were very impressive in defeating Ballina in the other semi-final at the weekend.