Shannonside FM Senior Football Championship Final
St. Brigid’s 2-8 Padraig Pearses 0-9
THE END result was all that mattered to St. Brigid’s. It has always been that way in Roscommon. Kevin McStay’s charges were anything but convincing in nailing down their sixth county title in eight years on Sunday. But the improvement will be forthcoming when the club bids for its first hat-trick of Connacht club titles in two weeks’ time.
It was inevitable that complacency would infiltrate Brigid’s minds. No matter how much McStay tried to insulate his team from the theory that Brigid’s would win this final with their eyes closed, the players brought into the hype. Luckily they had enough experience in players like Frankie Dolan and Karol Mannion to dig them out of a hole they should never have found themselves in.
Credit to Pearses though. While their shortcomings in attack saw the blue light flashing far too often, they never cracked and allowed Brigid’s to build up an insurmountable lead. It was a very similar performance to the one served up by the club’s senior hurlers in Athleague 24 hours earlier. While no one could question their determination and purpose to defy the odds, the lack of quality up front proved to be their undoing.
Sean Fahy’s arrival as a 45th minute substitute sparked the Pearses forwards into life but they had left themselves with too much to do. It was fitting that Frankie Dolan had the final say when he delivered the ‘coup de grace’ in the fourth minute of injury-time, finishing with conviction to the net as Pearses committed too many players forward in search of parity.
Dolan’s performance was immense. While speed is no longer an asset, his football brain remains as sharp as ever. Unlike those around him, he rarely gave the ball away and he always popped up with the scores that mattered during an error-laden final. Karol Mannion wasn’t far behind him in terms of influence, a steady presence that calmed matters when everyone around him seemed to be losing the run of themselves. Ronan Stack also marked his first senior football final with an assured display. With his direct marker Padraig Corbett detailed to double marking Senan Kilbride alongside David Murray, Stack was given the license to roam forward and he ended up in the Brigid’s half-forward line for most of the game.
Pearses’ defensive display was laden with courage and tenacity, and in Murray and Enda Barrett they paraded players that rose to the occasion. Aaron Feehily enjoyed his moments at midfield, although he will have nightmares about a 13-metre free straight in front of the goal in the 40th minute that he barely lifted off the ground out of his hands with the Brigid’s defence alligned en masse on the goal line.
While one can understand the reasoning behind playing Niall Daly as a full-forward in his function as a target man, surely his dynamism would have been better served further out the field, especially when the game was in the melting pot during the last ten minutes.