Walk in the Pairc!

Brigid’s thump Leitrim champions to set up Corofin clash
AIB Connacht Club SFC Semi-Final : St. Brigid’s 2-18 Aughawillan 1-7

“You can only beat what’s in front of you,” would be the legitimate verdict of the St. Brigid’s management, players and supporters after this one-sided mismatch at Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada last Sunday. It is hard to know what, if anything, St. Brigid’s learned from this game as they prepare for what will be a completely different challenge in the provincial final against Corofin on Sunday week.

  Brigid’s manager, Frankie Dolan, was delighted with the club’s change in fortunes in the last 12 months.

  “If you told us this time last year that we would be in a Connacht final you would be laughed out of Kiltoom so it is brilliant for the club to be there and I want to thank Michael McDonnell (Chairman) who has been brilliant to us as management and whatever we wanted he has given us. It is fantastic to be in another Connacht final. The players took a lot if criticism last year, including myself, but we regrouped and we trained hard and we got fit and did some great conditioning work and it is a great tribute to all the players.”

  Despite the ease of their victory, there was much to admire about this Brigid’s display, achieved without Ian Kilbride, Garvan Dolan and Cathal McHugh. They swatted away the challenge of Aughawillan with consummate ease and they were never in any difficulty in this game. But the quality of the opposition was so poor that Frankie Dolan and his selectors will know that they have a massive challenge in a final that will bear no resemblance to what we saw in this game.

  Joint manager, Eddie Lohan, knows that there is work to be done: “We got off to a great start and the game was over at half-time really but we were a bit sloppy in the second half,” he said, before adding: “We will have to tighten up on a lot of aspects to the game and we kicked a lot of wides in that first half too.”

   However, it was so easy for Brigid’s all through. Even when Aughawillan got their hands on the ball they repeatedly gave it straight back to Brigid’s who drove forward at every opportunity. In fact some poor shooting at times (13 wides) meant that Brigid’s could have won by even more.

   But even allowing for the vast gulf in class between the sides, there were a number of super performances from the Roscommon champions. Darragh Donnelly, the Sheehy brothers (Eoin scored three points from play) and a mighty performance from Niall McInerney, were the highlights from a defence that was never put under any real pressure. Mark Daly was the pick of the midfielders while up front, Senan Kilbride was excellent as the target man and Darren Dolan and Brian Stack also impressed.

  Impressed by what he saw, Aughawillian manager, Tommy McCormack, was magnanimous in defeat: “Our plan was to be in the game after 20 minutes but it didn’t work out that way. (The standard) in Connacht is really high and there is a big possibility that the All-Ireland champions can come from this province. I also think that Brigid’s have a great chance in the final. It will take a very good team to beat them.”

  Frankie Dolan, Eddie Lohan and Ger Dowd emptied their bench in the final quarter and the run out will be good for some of the younger panel members. Garvan Dolan will be back for the final and Brigid’s will do everything they can to get Ian Kilbride back with Cathal McHugh also likely to be fit, Brigid’s will be stronger in the final. They will need them all too if they want to have a chance of overcoming a very strong Corofin side. In the meantime, they can reflect on this really easy passage to another provincial final.