Sunday in Castlebar’s McHale Park was a terrific day for St Brigid’s GAA Club from Roscommon, capping a glorious few years when winning their third consecutive Connacht senior title.
To win three provincial titles in a row is a super achievement, and it is a fair reflection of the commitment and talent St Brigid’s possesses.
Only two clubs in Connacht have managed to achieve a hat-trick of titles and, ironically, both are from Roscommon.
The other club was the famous Clann na nGael side which won six titles in a row from 1984 to 1989.
Last weekend's triumph was St Brigid’s fourth Connacht senior title in the last seven years, and they were very comprehensive winners over Mayo champions Ballaghaderreen on a scoreline of 1-12 to 0-6.
St Brigid’s look a superior outfit this season compared to heretofore and last Sunday was by far the most comfortable of the club's four Connacht titles.
In 2006 at Hyde Park it took a stunning late goal from midfielder Karol Mannion to defeat Corofin on a bizarre scoreline of 1-10 to 3-03.
And in 2010 at Tuam Stadium they needed an injury-time goal by Cathal McHugh to secure extra-time before they beat Killererin. Last season they had just a single point to spare over Corofin at Kiltoom.
However last Sunday was a far more comprehensive and easy win, with their two key forwards, Senan Kilbride and Frankie Dolan, notching 1-8 between them and looking extremely potent.
To be fair to Ballaghdereen, they had to field without the the injured Andy Moran and regular centre-forward Andy Hanley who has recently taken up a job in America.
Despite those major absences, the first half of the match was evenly contested with St Brigid’s just edging ahead by 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.
However St Brigid’s showed their class and experience in the second-half and dominated the rest of the game, holding the Mayo champs to a single score in the second period.
That domination was confirmed in the last quarter when Senan Kilbride gathered possession and hit a good goal to seal the title for Kevin McStay's team.
Four Brigid’s players started all four finals
It was a really special win last weekend for St Brigid’s players Niall Grehan, Frankie Dolan, Senan Kilbride and Karol Mannion - the only four players to have started in the club’s four Connacht triumphs. The club also lost two Connacht finals in 2005 (to Salthill ) and 2007 (to Ballina ).
In the All-Ireland semi-final next February, St Brigid’s will face the winners of this Sunday’s Ulster club final between Crossmaglen Rangers and Kilcoo (Down ). St Brigid’s have plenty of history with Crossmaglen Rangers as they lost out to them in the 2007 All-Ireland semi-final, and the 2010 All-Ireland final.
No Roscommon club has ever won an All-Ireland club senior title and that is something that this current St Brigid’s squad will want to change.
They will not want to go down the road Clann na nGael did, coming so close, but no All-Ireland title, despite playing in five finals.
St Brigid’s will hope their on-going success and quality in the past few Connacht championships can now be transferred to the national stage. A very experienced side now, bringing the Andy Merrigan Cup to Kiltoom is not beyond them.
We wish them well in their quest.