AFL 11 Final Match Report
St. Brigids 5-06 Erins Isle 2-14
AFL 11 League Final
Having secured promotion to Division 10 on the previous Sunday away in St. Marks, the St. Brigids Junior team travelled to Finglas last Sunday to contest the League Final with Erins Isle. Although playing with the stiff breeze in the first half, the Blanchardstown men found themselves six points down early on, as the Erins Isle forwards struck for two early goals. Only for some brave defending by Stephen Dunning, preventing a third Erins Isle goal, the home side were unlucky not to be out of sight, as they blitzed the Brigids men inside the opening 15 minutes.
Rory Thyne and JP Costigan began to shore up the halfback line, and Sean McGeady used all his experience to get to grips with the Isle’s threat. Jonny Cooper kicked two massive scores in a row for the Brigids side, and the Brigids forwards began to feel their way into the game. James Campbell and John Dalton added scores but Isles finished the first half strongly, and buoyed by some impressive free taking, they kept the gap to six points at the break.
The second half began as the first one finished, with Erins Isle again in the early ascendency, as they added to their advantage. The Brigids management switched Kevin Bonfil to midfield as an extra man and the tactic paid dividends almost immediately, as he, Eanan Halferty and Cormac Kelly began to dominate the middle of the park. As the momentum switched, Brigids began to pressure the Erins Isle defence and a driving run inside by the impressive Jonny Cooper saw the Brigids man fouled, and the referee award a penalty. The Erins Isle keeper made a fantastic save to his left hand side as he turned James Campbell’s penalty around the post. The resulting 45’ was recycled and Jonny Dalton’s low shot hung over the square and Campbell pounced to punch the ball home, and make amends for the penalty miss.
From the resulting kick out, Cormac Kelly fed the ever-impressive Brian Donovan who played Jonny Cooper in, and he blasted home from close range to take his personal tally for the afternoon to 1-02. It was all one-way traffic at this point, and an Erins Isle short kick out was intercepted and Jonny Dalton made no mistake from 14 yards as he drove home the third goal for Brigids. The two sides exchanged further scores, with Kelly popping up from 30 yards to all but seal the game.
To their credit, and encouraged by a large home crowd, Isles kicked two huge points inside stoppage time, and forced the game into extra time. It appeared the momentum had swung firmly their way as they owned the ball during the opening period of extra time and outscored the visitors by four points to zero. It was again an inspired switch by the Brigids management, which swung the game back the way of the Blanch men. David Dempsey returned to the field for the second period of extra time, and his runs from deep created havoc in the Erins Isle rear-guard. Dempsey tore through the middle and laid the ball inside to Dalton, who was tripped, as he was about the pull the trigger. The referee awarded a second penalty, and this time Campbell made no mistake as he blasted the ball into the roof of the net.
Brigids amazingly, then took the lead, when they added a fifth goal late on as Jonny Dalton punched a high ball to the net. With Brigids now leading by two points entering the final moments, again the Isle’s team had to dig deep, and they tapped over a free in stoppage time to leave just a point beside the teams. The Brigids midfield got their hands on the ball from the resulting kick out, and their ‘keep ball’ tactic was a joy to watch as they controlled possession to see the game out. The celebrations on the pitch afterwards, showed what this had meant to the players, as they clung on over a breath-taking 80 minutes.
It was a magnificent game, and both teams can be proud of their promotion-achieving season, but the day belonged to the Brigids men. Sean McGeady gleefully accepted the cup on behalf of the team, as there was an outpouring of emotion from some of the men who have soldiered on this team for many years now. And on that note, nobody can forget the selfless work of the management team of, Noel Durr, Lar Wade and Brendan Farrell who have kept this team going through thick and thin over the past decade.
St Brigids: Thomas McElroy, Keith Barr, Stephen Dunning, Gerry Molloy, Rory Thyne, John Paul Costigan, Sean McGeady, Eanan Halftery, Cormac Kelly (0-01), James Campbell (2-01), Brian Donovan, David Dempsey (0-01), John Dalton (2-01), Kevin Bonfil, Jonny Cooper (1-02)
Subs & Panel: Rory Dunne, Rory Hanley, Colin Murray, Paddy Reilly, Stan Kevlihan, Shea White, Tadgh Brannigan, Darren Boyle
Management: Noel Durr, Lar Wade, Brendan Farrell