St Brigid’s (Roscommon) 2-11 Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) 2-10
Damien Kelleher will have woken up this morning counting his blessings as Frankie Dolan saved his bacon to finally bring All-Ireland glory to Kiltoom.
Brought on in the 58th minute having been substituted at half time, Kelleher had two chances within a minute to put St Brigid’s ahead in this captivating final but each shot dropped into the welcoming hands of Ballymun goalkeeper Sean Currie.
His second attempt triggered a Ballymun foray up field only for it to break down and see the ball sent the other way before ending up in Dolan’s hands and his left-footed stroke had enough purchase on it to fly over the crossbar.
“I don’t want to blow smoke around him or up his bum,” smiled St Brigid’s manager Kevin McStay as he sat beside Dolan basking in their side’s success. “If I wanted anybody to have the ball with those 20 or 30 seconds left... I don’t think he had the sweetest hit on it of all time.
“We were tired. It went over. I knew when the kick out came he [referee Padraig Hughes] would blow it. That’s the story of the All-Ireland.”
This decider will live long in the memory of the majority of the day’s 28,428 crowd who witnessed St Brigid’s haul back an eight-point deficit after just 10 minutes.
McStay likened Ballymun’s blistering start, which saw them lead 2-3 to 0-1, to the stunning All-Ireland finalbeginnings suffered by Mayo in recent times.
Ted Furman was off the mark after just 20 seconds and in the second minute Dean Rock had managed to get a deft touch to a long ball in from Jason Whelan to beat Shane Curran.
A second goal came in the sixth minute when Curran made an initial save from Furman only for the Ballymun forward to supply Philly McMahon from the rebound and he slotted the ball to the net.
Two further points were tagged on as St Brigid’s staggered like an over-imbibed St Patrick’s Day reveller. It was all going to plan for Ballymun manager Paul Curran.
“We spoke about a fast start today and we started McMahon at full-forward and then brought him out after the first couple of minutes just to see if we could open them up,” he said.
“It went very well for us, maybe too well, but we just lost our way then. I think the first Brigid’s goal gave them a foothold in the game, I think, and the second goal was a bit of a killer.”
Indeed, St Brigid’s steadied themselves with Senan Kilbride’s 10th-minute goal, a drop shot effort when he looked to be fouled by James Burke.
Its settling effect was instant and they managed to halve the eight-point deficit by the 15th minute, when Richard Blaine pointed.
Successful consecutive efforts on either foot from Karol Mannion in a six-minute period brought St Brigid’s to within three before Furman rounded off the first-half scoring to make it 2-6 to 1-5.
But as Curran admitted, the initiative had been stolen by St Brigid’s. “They certainly had the momentum going in at half time. Their confidence was back, it had taken a knock earlier on but they steadied the ship.”
If Mannion had led the way before the break, Kilbride took the baton in the opening five minutes of the second half with a couple of scores — Ballymun responding with a Rock free.
It was from Kilbride’s 37th-minute sideline kick that the ball was broken down to the advancing Mannion and he beat Currie with a calculated punch to make it 2-7 apiece.
Ballymun, to their credit, returned fire with James Burke’s second point and stemmed Kilbride’s influence when McMahon was moved back to shadow him.
But St Brigid’s were altering things themselves and Darragh Donnelly, who had been switched from centre-back to centre-forward, put the Connacht champions ahead again after Dolan had equalised.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued with Rock, from a free, and Dolan exchanging scores.
Whelan restored parity in the 55th minute Ballymun, even with a clearly unfit James McCarthy, looked to have gained a second wind.
The Dubliners will rue their 12 wides, a couple of which came in the dying stages, although Kelleher could himself have been haunted by his two gilt-edged opportunities at the death.
To his relief, Dolan was his and St Brigid’s saviour.
Scorers for St Brigid’s: S Kilbride 1-3, K Mannion 1-2, F Dolan 0-4 (1 45), R Blaine, D Donnelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 1-3 (0-3f); P McMahon 1-0; T Furman, J Burke, J Whelan 0-2 each, K Connolly 0-1.
ST BRIGID’S: S Curran; J Murray, D Donnelly, G Cunniffe; N Grehan, P Domican, R Stack; K Mannion, I Kilbride; D Kelleher, D Dolan, F Dolan; C McHugh, S Kilbride, R Blaine.
Subs for St Brigid’s: G Dolan for Kelleher (ht), E Sheehy for McHugh (46), C McHugh for Blaine (52), Kelleher for D Dolan (58).
BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: S Currie; Eoin Dolan, S George, Enda Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Burke; J McCarthy, P McMahon; E Reilly, K Leahy, J Whelan; T Furman, D Rock, P McMahon.
Subs for Ballymun Kickhams: D Byrne for Leahy (ht), C Weir for George (41), J Small for Reilly (52).
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh).
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