Garrycastle book final place with hard-fought win

Garrycastle (Westmeath) 1-11 St Brigid’s (Roscommon) 1-9

The Garrycastle fairytale continued as they produced an excellent second-half performance despite being reduced to 14-men to overcome St Brigid’s today.

The victory means the Westmeath club can now look forward to an AIB All-Ireland senior club football final against Crossmaglen on St Patrick’s Day.

Anthony Cunningham’s men were two points in arrears at the interval having played into the wind, but a 37th-minute goal from James Dolan, allied with four points from the outstanding Dessie Dolan, who finished with seven in total, gave them a deserved victory in the end.

They actually flew out of the traps, points from James Dolan, Paul Dillon and James Deignan putting them three clear after just four minutes.

St Brigid’s gradually dragged themselves back into proceedings though, Cathal McHugh getting them off the mark in the 12th minute.

Senan Kilbride reduced the margin to one with a fantastic score and Niall Cregg brought the sides level at the end of the opening quarter.

Dessie Dolan ended Garrycastle’s 16-minute barren spell when driving a shot over the bar on the run but St Brigid’s struck with the opening goal of the game immediately afterwards, Karol Mannion making no mistake from the penalty spot nine minutes from the end of half time after Doran Harte had hauled down McHugh.

The response from Garrycastle was telling though, as the Dolan brothers, Dessie and Gary found the range to register points and restore parity.

McHugh arced one over splendidly to put Brigid’s ahead once more but again, Dessie Dolan clawed them back.

It was the Roscommon side that finished the half the strongest though, Senan Kilbride lofting over his second point of the game, and his brother Ian following up in the second minute of injury time to leave them in front by 1-6 to 0-7 at the break.

At this stage, the smart money was on St Brigid’s to push on given the that the elements were in their favour but Garrycastle had other ideas, Dessie Dolan knocking over his fourth point before James Dolan got on the end of good move to fire the critical goal.

Dessie Dolan added a brace of points in the space of a couple of minutes to stretch his side’s advantage to four.

They had a massive let-off though entering the final quarter when Ian Kilbride struck the post with a firm shot when a goal seemed certain.

Garrycastle were dealt a major blow when experienced midfielder David Shaughnessy was sent off after being shown a second yellow card 12 minutes time.

As expected, St Brigid’s upped the ante and Frankie Dolan halved the gap with a brace of points.

When McHugh brought his tally to three, there was just the minimum between the teams and the prospect of extra time being required loomed large.

Fittingly, it was Dessie Dolan who had the final say however, making no mistake in injury time to confirm Garrycastle’s spot in the All-Ireland final.

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