Clann na nGael 4-15 St Brigid’s 1-12

Clann na nGael produced a devastating performance to dethrone neighbours St. Brigid’s and win their 21st Fahey Cup in glorious sunshine at Dr. Hyde Park.

Captain Donie Shine rolled back the years with a magnificent contribution of 1-07 as two second-half goals within a minute from Jonathan Dunning and Cathal Callinan paved the way for one of the club’s sweetest triumphs.

St Brigid’s hadn’t been beaten in a Roscommon final since 2003, winning their last 10 deciders, but they simply had to give second best to a Clann side that were irresistible at times.

Senan Kilbride led the way for Brigid’s with 1-6 but the full-forward hadn’t enough help around him, and the defending champions’ frustration was summed up by the dismissals of Gearoid Cunniffe and Garvan Dolan in the second half as they finished with 13 men. 

This was an explosive contest laden with quality football, especially in the opening half. Ciarán Lennon found the net for Clann na nGael after just 70 seconds but Brigid’s responded instantly when Kilbride judged Niall McInerney’s weighted pass perfectly before going around Ronan O’Reilly for a simple goal.

The sides couldn’t be separated for the next 20 minutes, with Kilbride leading the way for Brigid’s and Lennon doing likewise for Clann. Cathal Shine and Ultan Harney were also on target for Clann but a 28th minute free from Garvan Dolan nudged his side ahead, 1-07 to 1-06.

But Clann finished the half with a flourish as Callinan marked his introduction with a point before a free and a ’45 from Shine left his side 1-09 to 1-07 to the good at the break.

Brigid’s were just finding their feet in the second half but the 41st sending-off of Gearoid Cunniffe for a high tackle on Jack Connaughton swung the pendulum back in Clann’s favour.

Three minutes later, Jamie Fahey made inroads along the endline before unselfishly squaring possession for Jonathan Dunning to palm the ball into the net. Shane Mannon slipped as he sent the resultant kickout on its way. Callinan gathered and lobbed the St. Brigid’s goalkeeper to give Clann a 3-10 to 1-10 lead, just like Barney Rock managed for Dublin in the 1983 All-Ireland final against Galway.

The victors could do no wrong after that as Brigid’s challenge faded badly. Jamie Fahy landed a couple of scores to showcase the confidence now flowing through his side’s veins. Shine played his part too, kicking two fees before converting an injury-time penalty, after Sea Henry was upended, to leave his side in dreamland.

Clann go on and play the London champions in the Connacht club championship at Dr Hyde Park in two weeks’ time.

Clann na nGael: Ronan O’Reilly; Darra Pettit, Stephen Flynn, Ronan Gavin; Jack Connaughton, Graham Pettit, Shane Pettit; Ultan Harney (0-1), Cathal Shine (0-1); Emmet Kenny, Donal Shine (1-7, 1-0 pen, 0-4f, 0-2 ‘45s), David Connaughton, David McManus, Ciarán Lennon (1-3), Jamie Fahy (0-2).

Subs used: Fergal Lennon for D Pettit (2, bc), Cathal Callinan (1-1) for D Connaughton (27), Jonathan Dunning (1-0) for McManus (38), Cian McManus for Kenny (47), Ross Naughton for Fahy (56), Sea Henry for S Flynn (56).

St Brigid’s: Shane Mannion; Ronan Stack, Peter Domican, Darragh Sheehy; Gearoid Cunniffe, Niall McInerney, Ian Kilbride; Mark Daly (0-2), Conor Murray; Eamonn Cunnane, Brian Stack (0-1), Garvan Dolan (0-2, 0-2f); Padraig Kelly (0-1), Senan Kilbride (1-6, 0-4f), Eoin Sheehy.

Subs: Eddie Nolan for Murray (h/t), David Cunniffe for Cunnane (47), Brian Derwin for E Sheehy (60).

Referee: Paddy Neilan (St. Faithleach’s).