ST PATRICK'S (Donabate) 0-6
A DIRTY old Sunday in Dublin 15. December hurling on the menu.
There was a little programme at the gate. All donations to the Dublin 15 Hospice. Nice first touch.
On the front cover, there was a man wearing a funny hat in the Brigid's colours. He had a big white beard. He's about to get busy.
The back of the programme told that Patrick's were formed in 1924. Brigid's are celebrating their 80th anniversary.
A tidy crowd looked on from the terrace. The rain was coming down but it was like water off a duck's back on the St Brigid's pitch for all seasons.
Seánie McDermott wore number 15 for the Donabate side. He hurled with distinction for the Dubs.
He's fondly remembered up at Páirc Naomh Uinsionn. He was a corner-forward who could turn on a six-pence. He still carries the Q mark in the kit bag.
Credit both clubs for putting on such a worthy, spirited show. It was level three times, but in the second period, Brigid's, on familiar turf, turned for home.
The teams had met before in the league. Brigid's won by a few points. The Russell Park men finished top of the table and Pat's were runners-up.
"There were a few points in it the last day alright, but in reality it was a lot tighter," commented Oliver Cussens of Brigid's.
"And it was very close again today. I thought Pat's were playing far better than us in the first half. They were causing us problems. They were quicker to the ball.
"We showed more determination after half-time. We improved. We got the scores when it mattered, and that is what made the difference."
Brigid's thus completed their league programme with a 100 per cent record. And it was their goalkeeper and captain, Timothy O'Leary, who accepted the trophy from Dublin chief, Andy Kettle.
O'Leary's defence gave little away. Alan Thynne and Eoin Mulville achieved much at midfield, and Brigid's had pace and guile in attack.
"Our fellas kept at it. They gave it their best. We were up against a very good team. Nobody could fault our effort," reflected Bryan Kelly of Pat's.
Bryan had three sons on the team, Timothy, Bryan junior the skipper and Cormac. They possessed an assured free-taker in Niall O'Connor, Danny's son. The great hurling man was in the audience.
Two O'Connor frees and McDermott's strike had Pat's up by three points within the opening eight minutes as they attacked the road end. Neil Plunkett didn't miss the letter box all afternoon. His two frees, plus a Noel Kidd point, had them level on 19 minutes.
Kidd's effort was tasty enough. Dave Grogan, left corner-back, delivered a precise pass and Kidd did the rest in some style. Cillian O'Riordan's point for Pat's was also a contender for the point of the day.
It was 0-4 apiece at the interval, and then 0-5 each. But then Brigid's hit four in succession -- two Plunkett placed balls and two super scores on the run from Maurice Sweeney. Sweeney is a talented hurler who can spot a gap in the traffic.
The game was moving away from Pat's, but they kept swinging. Impresive half-back, Danny Fallen, drove them on. The home rearguard had to be vigilant as the pressure increased.
Three minutes from time, O'Connor found a yard of space on the left. He perhaps sensed a goal chance, but just as he was about to release the bow, along came Damien Fitzsimons with a marvellous block.
Pat's earned a cluster of 65s late on, but the breaking ball didn't bounce towards a north county stick. O'Connor's injury-time free brought it back to three points, but polished Plunkett's 64th-minute free closed the lid.
Handshakes all round. It was a very sporting encounter. Hurling heroes who beat the climate with something to spare.