St Brigid's (Roscommon) 2-18 Aughawillan (Leitrim) 1-07

Roscommon champions St Brigid’s are into their first Connacht senior football final in three years as their first-half masterclass demolished Aughawillan at Pairc Sean Mac Diarmada.

Senan Kilbride and Eoin Sheehy kicked three points each before the break, while Darren Dolan’s goal in the sixth minute meant the Leitrim winners were always chasing the game.

St Brigid’s, who won three provincial titles in a row in 2010, ’11 and ’12, never looked concerned even when substitute Stephen Gilheany goaled for Aughawillan 14 minutes from time, as points from Karol Mannion and Brian Stack’s goal saw them ease past the finish line.

From the first few minutes it was clear there was a gulf in class between the teams.

St Brigid’s kicked three points in less than three minutes at the start of the game, two of them from Kilbride as he was allowed to shoot on the turn at his leisure.

Wing-back Eoin Sheehy landed the third from distance after a great pass from Ronan Stack, but worse was to come for the Leitrim champions.

Six minutes in Niall Grehan gained possession around midfield and when he turned to face for goal he made the most of the free space, and when he laid off the ball to Darren Dolan, the St Brigid’s centre-forward blasted to the net from close range.

That goal gave the Roscommon champions a 1-3 to 0-0 lead, but Aughawillan finally found some form and points from Morgan Quinn and Mark Plunkett cut their deficit to four points by the 11th minute.

At midfield, Brigid’s were utterly dominant, and Mark Daly showed some real class by laying on a score for Kilbride, before he kicked one of his own as St Brigid’s pulled well clear again.

Barry Prior and Mark Plunkett did raise a white flag for Aughawillian, but the last three minutes of the half belonged to the 2013 All-Ireland champions, who kicked six unanswered points – two of them from Eoin Sheehy – as they led by 1-13 to 0-4.

The second period started in the same fashion as the first a St Brigid’s kicked three unanswered points from Adrian Gleeson, Brian Stack and Kilbride, which gave their side a 15-point advantage.

Mark Plunkett’s second 45 was followed by a point from Niall Beirne, and when Stephen Gilheany exchanged passes with his brother Ciaran, an Aughawillain goal trimmed that lead to ten points.

But that was as good as it got for the Leitrim men, who were totally outclassed and St Brigid’s wrapped up the win when Brian Stack goaled with three minutes remaining.

St Brigid’s: S Mannion; N McInerney (0-01), D Donnelly (c), D Sheehy (0-01); E Sheehy (0-03), N Grehan, R Stack; P Kelly (0-01), M Daly (0-01); B Stack (1-01), D Dolan (1-02), C Murray; K Mannion (0-02, 0-01f), S Kilbride (0-04), A Gleeson (0-02).

Subs used: J McDonnell for Gleeson (40 mins); J Murray for Grehan (42 mins); D Cuniffe for D Dolan (45 mins); R Fallon for Sheehy (53 mins); R Kelly for d Sheehy (57 mins); C Gleeson for Kilbride (57 mins).

Aughawillan: C Maguire; D McGovern, N Plunkett, Michael Quinn; R McTague, B Prior (0-01), S Quinn; P Dolan, S Flanagan (0-01); G Plunkett, N Beirne (0-01), M Plunkett (0-03, 0-02’45); G McGovern, Morgan Quinn (0-01), C Gilheany.

Subs used: S Gilheany (1-00) for McGovern (half-time), S Fox for Beirne (45 mins).

Referee: L Devaney (Mayo).