Crafty Darcy delivers for Brigid’s

St. Brigid’s (Dublin) 3-11 Round Towers (Kildare) 1-10

Joint managers Paddy Clarke and Gerry McEntee can take pride in the more prestigious of these achievements, but on the field it was the crafty Declan Darcy who stole the glory with two goals.

The third of the St. Brigid's goals from wing-back Mick Galvin came two minutes into injury time when the destination of the title had clearly been decided. Yet, ten minutes earlier, after a fourth consecutive score from the Kildare side left them only two points adrift, the outcome had been anything but certain. Then, after O'Dwyer inexplicably missed a close-in free and an effort from play came back off the crossbar, Darcy kicked a point which firmly propelled the Dubliners towards the winning post.

There was nothing between the sides in the opening quarter, at the end of which the sides were level at 0-3 each. Notably, while St. Bridgid's forced the early pace with a point after just two minutes, it sparked a speedy response from the opposition, who landed three points in two-minute period. That was the result of a brief midfield dominance and some clever play from O'Dwyer. In another five minutes they had lost their lead and, more significantly, the initiative.

St. Bridgid's gradually began to impose their will on the game. Peadar Andrews gave good leadership at centre-back, Ken Darcy was involved in a lot of the play and, while he was to remain scoreless until late in the game when he kicked the first of two marvellous long-range frees, Fermanagh star Rory Gallagher played a major role at centre-forward. Likewise, his brother Raymond at full-forward was also to make an important contribution, along with the two players in the corner.

A break by Ken Darcy in the 19th minute enabled Rory Gallagher to set up Declan Darcy for his first goal. Round Towers, to their immense credit, replied instantly with a well-worked goal from midfielder Damien Broughall, but as the game developed, it was obvious that the Dubliner side gained much more psychologically from Darcy's score.

Nevertheless, after falling behind by three points, Round Towers staged a defiant rally in the closing stages of the half, with Glenn Ryan prominent at centre-back and Padraig Mullarkey doing good work around midfield. Highlighted by a splendid score from Brian Lacey, it brought them to within a point at the break, 1-6 to 1-5.

That situation changed quite dramatically on the resumption, with two quick scores for St. Brigid's followed by Declan Darcy's second goal in the 33rd minute. And, it was almost of an exact replica of his first, with Rory Gallagher again the provider and the former Leitrim star judged his run into the goalmouth to perfection before pushing the ball home. This time, however, the move was initiated by wing-forward Declan Lally, who showed blistering pace to get away from Lacey before passing.

With the cushion of a six points advantage and playing with more confidence, St. Brigid's retained control up to the three-quarters stage. In the interim, Leonard Donlon had kicked two good scores for Round Towers and Padraig Golden added another, when he might have tried for goal. The game had reached its most critical stage and, worryingly for the Dublin side, they appeared to be tiring as they came under increasing pressure. O'Dwyer put over a 49th minute free to leave only two points in it.

Just a minute later O'Dwyer was wide from close range before Golden saw a good effort hit an upright and come back into play. And, before they had time to mount another attack, a quick break out of defence saw Declan Darcy win a good ball in the right corner and pointed with a terrific kick. In between two outstanding free kicks from Rory Gallagher, Round Towers had full-back Brian Kennedy red-carded, after yellow cards had earlier been issued, largely for unnecessary bickering off the ball. And, to cap off an inspired display, hard-working wing-back Mick Galvin took advantage of indecision in the Round Towers defence to score a third goal.

The message for Gaeltacht was obvious. Be on guard!

*Eugene Murtagh did a good job of refereeing.

Scorers for St. Brigid's: D. Darcy 2-1; M. Galvin 1-1; J. Noonan 0-3 (0-2 frees); Rory Gallagher 0-2 frees; K. Bonar 0-2; Raymond Gallagher and K. Darcy 0-1 each.

Round Towers: D. Broughall 1-0; L. Donlon, P. Golden, K. O'Dwyer (0-1 free) and P. Mullarkey 0-2 each; L. Ryan and B. Lacey 0-1 each.

ST. BRIGID'S: P. Keane; K. Keane, D. Cahill, M. Cahill; G. Norton, P. Andrews, M. Galvin; K. Darcy, J. Ward (capt,); D. Darcy, Rory Gallagher, D. Lally; K. Bonar, Raymond Gallagher, J. Noonan. Sub: C. Ryan for Noonan (46th minute).

ROUND TOWERS: J. Kindregan; D. Houlihan, B. Kennedy (capt.), D. Maher; M. Scanlon, G. Ryan, B. Lacey; P. Mullarkey, D. Broughall; T.J. Waters, P. Golden, L. Donlon; K. O'Dwyer, P. Donnelly, L. Ryan. Subs S. Daly for Waters (39th minute); S. Drea for O'Dwyer (54th).

Referee: E. Murtagh (Longford).

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