Salthill/Knocknacarra well beaten by St Brigid's

Diving determination: Galway’s  Tomas Burke of Salthill/Knocknacarra and Karol Mannion of St Brigid’s compete for possession in Sunday’s AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final at Pearse Stadium. 
Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Diving determination: Galway’s Tomas Burke of Salthill/Knocknacarra and Karol Mannion of St Brigid’s compete for possession in Sunday’s AIB Connacht Club SFC semi-final at Pearse Stadium. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Sometimes teams never really get into the groove and always look likely to be beaten and, unfortunately for Salthill/Knocknacarra, Sunday was one of those occasions.

They had held their own for the first quarter and were level on three points apiece, but thereafter St Brigid's, who are gunning for a third provincial crown, looked far superior.

The Mayo outfit is well balanced and vastly experienced and, with Kevin McStay and Liam McHale on the sideline this year, St Brigid’s will fancy their chances of having a real cut at All-Ireland success.

The Roscommon champions were full value for their seven-point win (0-15 to 0-8 ).

They looked more powerful, cohesive, hard-working and experienced all over the field.

Their workrate was especially impressive and the number of times their forwards stopped and stripped Salthill defenders of possession was a key facet of their play.

They have beaten the Galway county champions for the past three years (Killererin 2010, Corofin 2011, and now Salthill ) and they looked very impressive last weekend.

The flip side of the coin is that Salthill were not really at the races, proven by the number of times the colourful Shane Curran was allowed to pick out his defenders with short kick-outs. Salthill never really got going and that made them easy pickings for such a battle hardened, experienced and ambitious team as Brigid's.

St Brigid's had star players all over the field, with Ian Kilbride, Karol Mannion, Darragh Donnelly and Senan Kilbride especially prominent. Frankie Dolan was also ruthless from placed balls.

An organised and progressive club, St Brigid’s are dominant in the Roscommon county championship, having won six of the last eight county titles. After annexing the last two provincial titles, they will fancy their chances against Ballaghderreen in the Connacht final in two weeks’ time.

It will be, to quote McStay - an All Roscommon provincial final.

Salthill never looked like winning

On the day Salthill never looked like winning, and they had been hit by a few pre-match blows when the experienced and influential Gary Cox and Ruaídhri McTiernan were ruled out by injury.

They were genuine losses, and those absences were compounded when key forward Seamie Crowe had to limp off with what looked like a pulled hamstring after only five minutes. Even at that stage, the mood among the sprinkling of home supporters was far from positive.

Once St Brigid’s got on top around the middle, with Mannion and Kilbride hugely impressive, they really opened up the Seasiders and took a match-winning advantage. Their cause was helped by some of Salthil’s rash challenges in defence which gave Kilbride and Dolan a few easy scores from frees.

The Roscommon men led by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break and were in complete control for the second quarter.

Salthill really needed a good restart to boost their chances and confidence, but they blew a few good early scoring opportunities to ease themselves back into the game.

Instead, it was Dolan, Kilbride and Damien Kelleher who showed the cool heads and at 0-11 to 0-4, the game looked like a dead rubber. Those early second-half scores nailed the home side and, while Seán Armstrong did rally the troops with three good points, they needed a goal to have any real chance of getting back into the game.

There is no doubt the better team won, but for the Galway supporter, it was disappointing to see another Galway adult team well beaten by Connacht opposition.

Salthill/Knocknacarra: C Connolly; C Begley, F Hanley (Cpt ), 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 (0-1, f ) for Crowe (5 ), S Gavin for O’Mahony (42 ), R Conlon for Burke (57 ), G Ó Leidhinn for O’Flaherty (61 ), B Malone for B Conlon (61 ).

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 (45 ), D Dolan for Blaine (54 ), Cathal McHugh for Grehan (54 ), Conor McHugh for Cunniffe (61 ).


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