St Brigid’s 0-15
A man-of-the-match performance from Senan Kilbride inspired St Brigid’s to their third successive Connacht final as they dispatched of Salthill/Knocknacarra in Pearse Stadium on Sunday.
The Galway champions never fully recovered from the loss of their influential forward Seamie Crowe after six minutes when he seemed to go over awkwardly on his ankle. This combined with the absence of Gary Cox meant that St Brigid’s were able to stroll to victory as they look to become only the second team in the history of the Connacht club championship to win it three times in a row.
The teams were level on three separate occasions in the opening ten minutes before the Kiltoom side gained a firm stranglehold in midfield. From here they never looked back as the Roscommon county star Kilbride began a five-point blitz and Salthill/Knocknacarra were blown out of the water.
Frankie Dolan was also in ruthless form upfront as he contributed two points from frees before Sean Armstrong ended the Seasiders’ 16-minute wait for a score, reducing the margin to 0-8 to 0-4 points at the break.
Salthill/Knocknacarra had the elements in their favour in the second-half however it was the Roscommon side who kicked on after the restart.
Three unanswered points later and St Brigid’s were very much in the ascendency with little sign of easing up. Yet, Armstrong finally found his sweet spot and reeled off three sublime points to leave his side trailing 0-11 to 0-7 points entering the final quarter.
A goal from Salthill/Knocknacarra would certainly have sewn threads of doubt in the minds of the champions, but Frankie Dolan stepped forward with a powerful final quarter.
It was his majestic free with the outside of his boot in the 50th minute that roused the St Brigid’s faithful, but they continued to pepper the Salthill/Knocknacarra goalmouth. And after two further efforts from the senior Dolan as well as a point from Niall Grehan meant St Brigid’s advanced to face Ballaghderreen in the decider.
St Brigid’s: S Curran; R Stack, P Domican, J Murray; D Kelleher (0-1), D Donnelly (0-1), N Grehan 0-1; K Mannion, I Kilbride; G Cunniffe, G Dolan (0-1), E Sheedy; S Kilbride (0-5, 3fs), F Dolan (0-6, 5fs, 1’45), R Blaine
Subs: D Sheehy for G Dolan, 46; D Dolan for Blaine, 54; Cathal McHugh for Grehan, 54; Conor McHugh for Cunniffe, 61.
Salthill/Knocknacarra: C Connolly; C Begley, F Hanley, K Conlon; C Halloran, G Canavan, D O’Flaherty; D Tierney (0-1), J Boylan; A Kerins, S Armstrong (0-5, 3fs), C Healy; S Crowe, B Conlon, T Burke (0-1).
Subs: E O’Mahony (0-1f) for Crowe, 6; S Gavin for O’Mahony, 41; R Conlon for Burke, 56; G O Leidhinn for O Flaherty, 61; B Malone for B Conlon, 61.