St Brigid's halt Crossmaglen three-in-a-row bid

St. Brigids (Roscommon) 2-7 Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) 1-9

St Brigid's halt Crossmaglen three-in-a-row bid

St. Brigids (Roscommon) 2-7 Crossmaglen Rangers (Armagh) 1-9

A 56th minute goal from substitute Conor McHugh was vital in a gripping AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final at Cusack Park, Mullingar this afternoon as St. Brigid's advanced to the decider.

McHugh's three-pointer came seconds before Crossmaglen were reduced to 14 men following the dismissal of Kyle Carragher after an off-the-ball incident with Shane Curran.

Brigid's held their composure in the closing stages, to hold out for another All-Ireland final appearance.

Games in this competition always seem to bring out the best in both sides, and this encounter was no different with plenty of high-octane drama to keep the 4,300 paying spectators on the edge of their seats throughout.

Two years ago at Croke Park, Crossmaglen prevailed by a goal when these sides met in the final, but in Mullingar today Brigid's weren't to be denied once again and firmly pushed Rangers to the sword in the second half.

Goalkeeper Shane Curran was immense throughout this game with some excellent saves, and gave every ounce to push his club to the decider.

'Cake' was outstretched on the deck in the 57th minute after an off-the-ball incident, and after referee Maurice Deegan consulted with his umpires he had no option but to issue Kyle Carragher with a straight red card, and Crossmaglen were reduced to 14 men for the closing minutes.

Just seconds previously St. Brigid's substitute Conor McHugh netted a vital goal for his side to push them 2-7 to 1-8 ahead and give them the platform to carve out a famous win.

Earlier, Crossmaglen opened this game brightly with Carragher slotting over the opening point after just 15 seconds.

But Brigid's were ruthless and a second minute Frankie Dolan goal gave the Roscommon outfit the edge over the next 10 minutes.

Liam McHale's charges added further scores from Cathal McHugh and Dolan, but Crossmaglen bounced back.

A 12th minute goal from defender Paul Hughes after some excellent work by Jamie Clarke cut the gap to the minimum.

Scores from Aaron Kernan and Carragher pushed Crossmaglen 1-3 to 1-2 ahead at the start of the second quarter.

Crossmaglen edged a 1-5 to 1-3 interval lead following a Clarke point, but it would take them 21 minutes to add another score after the restart.

The Armagh outfit on the back-foot in the third-quarter as Brigid's tagged on four unanswered points after the break.

Senan Kilbride and Frankie Dolan levelling the tie for the third time in the 38th minute, while scores from Cathal McHugh and Frankie Dolan pushed Brigid's 1-7 to 1-5 ahead with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Crossmaglen rallied, inspired by their captain David McKenna, who broke their scoring deadlock with a 51st minute score.

Points followed from Jamie Clarke and Aaron Kernan to ensure a 1-8 to 1-7 lead with seven minutes remaining, but Brigid's were far from finished.

Brigid's rocked the Crossmaglen net in the 57th minute, when substitute Conor McHugh fired the ball to the net, placing the Roscommon outfit 2-7 to 1-8 in front.

The drama continued at the opposite end with Curran outstretched on the deck, and following consultation with his umpires referee Maurice Deegan issued Crossmaglen full-forward Kyle Carragher with a straight red card.

Crossmaglen piled on the pressure in the closing stages, and despite their numerical disadvantage showed great composure late on.

Jamie Clarke cut the deficit to the minimum with 90 seconds remaining, but the equaliser failed to follow as St. Brigid's held out for another St. Patrick's Day decider.

ST BRIGIDS: S Curran, R Stack, P Domican, N Grehan; G Cunniffe, D Donnelly, G Dolan; G Aherne, I Kilbride; D Dolan, K Mannion, Cathal McHugh (0-2); S Kilbride (0-2, 2f), F Dolan (1-3, 2f), R Blaine. Subs: E Sheehy for G Dolan (HT); D Kelleher for Grehan (47); Conor McHugh (1-0) for Cathal McHugh (54); G Dolan for D Dolan (59).

CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS: P Hearty; P Hughes (1-0), P Kernan, P McKeown; A Kernan (0-2, 1f), J Morgan, M Aherne; J Hanratty (0-1), D McKenna; D O'Callaghan, S Kernan, T Kernan; J Clarke (0-3), K Carragher (0-2), O McConville. Subs: K Brennan (0-1) for McConville (21); A Cunningham for P Kernan (35); M Boyce for O'Callaghan (59).

REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

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