Garrycastle will contest their second Leinster club final in three years on December 18 when they take on Dublin kingpins St Brigid’s in O’Connor Park Tullamore. This mouth-watering clash is their prize for seeing off the considerable challenge posed by Kildare champions Athy last weekend.
When the hard questions were asked it was the experienced Westmeath champions who came up with the answers to gain a well-merited win over their youthful opponents. Having lost out at the semi-final stage last year the men in green and red were in no mood for accepting defeat this time around.
The heavy conditions made quality football difficult and after a sluggish opening half the Athlone-based side were happy to enter the break on level terms 0-4 apiece.
Three unanswered point between the 37th and 40th minutes gave them some breathing space before a 43rd minute goal by danger-man James Eaton levelled matters. James Dolan and Eaton traded points before substitute Alan ‘Dollar’ Daly nudged his side ahead.
The defining moment came in the 56th minute when a speculative Dessie Dolan effort rebounded to brother Gary who rattled the back of the net. Cathal Mullin had to be at his best to thwart two late Athy efforts but when the long whistle sounded it was the sizable Garrycastle support who were celebrating their side’s return to a provincial decider.
Overall it was a job well done as Garrycastle coped admirably with their favourites tag as well as the added difficulty of travelling into the lions’ den. They will have no such problems ahead of the decider as St Brigid’s will be hot favourites, while Tullamore will feel like a home venue for many of the Garrycastle lads, who have usually found it a happy hunting ground.
James Dolan was excellent throughout as was first cousin Dessie while Cathal Mullin, Rory McGowan, Doran Harte, and Tom McHugh all led by example. The midfield pairing of Seanie Donoghoe and David O’Shaughnessy played a big part in swinging things in their side’s favour in the second half.
There will have to be improvement if the Leinster club title is to spend the winter in the Midlands but it would be a brave man who would bet against Anthony Cunningham’s men. They are just 60 minutes away from creating history and are long enough knocking on the door to know this could be their last opportunity. The disappointments of 2009 and last year will forever be forgotten if they are crowned Leinster club champions on the 18th. They are sure to give it a right good rattle and on the day anything is possible.