St Brigid's make history with semi-final win

St Brigid's (Roscommon) 0-13 Nemo Rangers (Cork) 1-8

St Brigid's (Roscommon) 0-13 Nemo Rangers (Cork) 1-8

There was drama galore at the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon as St. Brigid's from Roscommon qualified for their first ever AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship final.

In a tense contest, St Brigid's emerged victorious over Munster champions Nemo Rangers, who finished the game with 13 players.

The first sending-off was of major significance when midfielder Niblock was shown a second yellow card for a clumsy tackle early in the second half.

Corner back Aidan O'Reilly received his marching orders in injury-time, by which point St. Brigid's had the result wrapped up.

It was wing back Gearoid Cunniffe who roamed upfield with three minutes remaining to edge St Brigid's in front and to make sure, man-of-the-match Senan Kilbride put over an insurance point from a late free.

The outcome looked far different when the Cork side led by a point - 1-8 to 0-10 - but the task of playing with 14 men for all bar six minutes of the second half took its toll.

It was a dogged win for the Roscommon champions whose players and supporters remained on the pitch to give each of the sides a rousing reception. They will be a major handful in the final against the winners of tomorrow afternoon's other semi-final between Kilmacud Crokes and Crossmaglen Rangers.

St Brigid's made the brighter start but hit two wides, including one easy free, and they found themselves trailing thanks to a free by James Masters.

Kilbride soon cancelled that out and while St. Brigid's continued to dominate possession, they could only manage a superbly-taken point by Karol Mannion.

But the game took its first twist in Nemo's favour in the 12th minute. Masters slipped as he took a sideline kick and the ball floated into the Brigid's square where a grateful Sean O'Brien knocked the ball past Philip Martin for the game's only goal.

The sides were level again a minute later when Darren Dolan had a point which he curled in beautifully.

However, the first half was all about the missed St. Brigid's chances and the accuracy of Masters from frees for Nemo, who took a 1-4 to 0-5 lead into the break.

Paul Kerrigan, whose pace troubled the Brigid's rearguard, was wide with a free from near the touchline, just minutes into the second half, and Brigids hit back with a puched point from Eoin Sheehy.

The sending-off of Niblock did not have an immediate effect on Nemo who had another free by Masters, but gradually the winners got on top though they could never breathe easily.

The experienced Frankie Dolan dropped back from his forward station to play the link man role, winning a number of breaking balls and setting up attacks which led to scores.

Brigid's retained possession well in those helter-skelter closing minutes which helped them win a couple of crucial frees around midfield.

Substitute Alan Cronin had Nemo 1-08 to 0-10 in front with six minutes remaining, setting up a tense finish. But Cunniffe and the hugely influential Kilbride made sure of a famous win for Noel O'Brien's side.

Full-forward Kilbrde score six points, including three superb efforts from play. Masters pointed six frees for the Cork side, yet a couple of misses either side of half-time proved crucial. Nemo, who were odds-on favourites to advance, also hit a post late on but it was not to be their day.

Scorers: St. Brigid's: S Kilbride 0-06 (0-03f), I Kilbride, G Cunniffe, K Mannion, G Dolan, D Dolan, F Dolan, E Sheehy 0-01 each

Nemo Rangers: J Masters 0-06 (0-06f), S O'Brien 1-00, B O'Driscoll, A Morgan 0-01 each

ST. BRIGID'S: P Martin; R Kelly, D Donnelly, D Sheehy; I Kilbride, P Domican, G Cunniffe; G Dolan, K Mannion; E Sheehy, C McHugh, D Dolan; D O'Connor, S Kilbride, F Dolan.

Subs used: D Kelleher for O'Connor.

NEMO RANGERS: B Morgan; C O'Shea, D Kavanagh, A O'Reilly; C O'Brien, B O'Regan, D Breen; D Niblock, P Morgan; A Cronin, P Kerrigan, B O'Driscoll; J Masters, S O'Brien, D Kearney.

Subs used: D Mehigan for S O'Brien, W Morgan for C O'Brien, A Morgan for O'Driscoll.

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Laois).

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