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Brigid’s prove a bit extra special

Evening Herald Dublin SFC semi-final: ST BRIGID’S 1-18, BALLYMUN KICKHAMS 1-12 (After extra-time)

DETERMINED St Brigid’s produced a powerful conclusion to extra-time in eventually overcoming 13-man Ballymun Kickhams by six points in their riveting Evening Herald Dublin Senior Football Championship semi-final at Parnell Park on Saturday evening.

Despite conceding two points within the opening 90 seconds of the extra-time necessitated after Ken Darcy’s free five minutes into injury time, Brigid’s completely dominated from that point on, holding their opponents scoreless for the ensuing 18 minutes as they took advantage of their numerical superiority.

Gaps began to appear in the Ballymun rearguard, allowing both Paddy Andrews and Barry Cahill to push the Navan Road men clear and their final berth was confirmed when Philly Ryan danced through and rifled an unerring finish beyond the dive of Seán Currie with three minutes remaining in extra-time.

Their reward is a final date (next Sunday, Parnell Park, 3.30) against near neighbours St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh in a repeat of last year’s last-four clash in which Brigid’s prevailed in a low-scoring encounter.

Discomfort

If Brigid’s are to replicate that defensive solidity, they’ll need to improve on what was an uncharacteristically lax opening as they had no answer to the vibrant forward play of Ballymun and found themselves trailing by five points by the eighth minute.

Brian McCullagh set the tone inside 15 seconds as he pointed from close range and Seán Murray’s initial discomfort was highlighted as Kevin Leahy spurned an inviting goal chance in the second minute, blazing over the bar when well placed.

Elliot Reilly and Leahy doubled the Mun’s advantage in the following four minutes and Kickhams were close to running riot when Derek Byrne landed a classy score in the eighth minute, benefitting from the early platform provided by McCullagh, the spectacularly high-fielding Davey Byrne and the marauding Alan Hubbard.

Slowly but surely, Brigid’s managed to play their way back into contention with Darcy opening their account through a ninth-minute free and Barry Cahill fed midfield |partner John O’Loughlin for a facile score three minutes later.

The Blanchardstown men |continued to struggle and the score conceded to Leahy at the end of the opening quarter was symptomatic of their travails as they failed to respond adequately when Dean Rock’s point attempt had rebounded off the upright.

Darcy notched a point from play soon after but Brigid’s were riding their luck when Derek Byrne missed a gilt-edged goal chance, sliding the ball wide after Shane Supple had done superbly to thwart Ted Furman.

Frees from Darcy and Mark Cahill approaching the break looked to have handed St Brigid’s a less daunting deficit to contend with but Ballymun finished the half in the ascendancy, giving the scoreline a more accurate reflection of their supremacy.

After Derek Byrne had pushed his side two clear in the 30th minute, he availed of loose marking to race uncontested and land a precise finish inside the bottom left-hand corner of Supple’s net from 10 metres, with Rock’s ensuing ‘45’ leaving Kickhams 1-8 to 0-5 ahead at the interval.

The second-half saw Barry Cahill and O’Loughlin finally exert the pressure and influence that has been a feature of St Brigid’s’ campaign to date while Graham Norton, Alan Daly and Murray were a different proposition for the Ballymun forwards from the restart.

That Kickhams failed to score for the opening 27 minutes of the half reflected St Brigid’s growing confidence as Andrews, Barry Cahill and Ryan all pointed to leave their deficit at more manageable proportions.

Their dominance continued to such a degree that they finally gained the lead for the first time when Andrews and sub Lorcan McCarthy tagged on classy points in the |52nd minute.

Killer

Ballymun regrouped sufficiently to restore parity through a James Burke free and looked to have landed the killer score when Furman was fouled in the third minute of injury-time, allowing Rock to push his side to within seconds of a county final.

However, in a pulsating conclusion, Davey Byrne was adjudged to have fouled the ball close to goal and Darcy did the necessary from 14 metres to ensure 20 further minutes of excitement for the large crowd gathered in Donnycarney.

Derek Byrne and Rock handed Ballymun the early initiative but their lead was overturned when Darcy registered two frees in addition to another telling score from Andrews as Brigid’s looked the more composed team in the initial period of extra-time.

Furman’s dismissal in the 73rd minute tipped the scales further in Brigid’s favour before Davey Byrne’s late second yellow for dissent.

SCORERS - St Brigid’s: K Darcy 0-6 (5f), P Ryan 1-2, Mark Cahill (3f), P Andrews |0-3, B Cahill 0-2, J O’Loughlin, L McCarthy 0-1 each. Ballymun Kickhams: Derek Byrne 1-3, K Leahy, D Rock (1f, 1’45’) 0-3, B McCullagh, E Reilly, J Burke (f), 0-1.

ST BRIGID’S: S Supple; G Norton, |S Murray, Martin Cahill; C Moran, A Daly, |G Kane; B Cahill, J O’Loughlin; Mark Cahill, G McIntyre, O McCann; P Andrews, K Darcy, P Ryan. Subs: L McCarthy for McIntyre (ht), C Mullins for McCann (ht), |C Doyle for Moran (73).

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: S Currie; |Eoin Dolan, P McMahon, Enda Dolan; |A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Small; |B McCullagh, Davey Byrne; E Reilly, D Rock, J Burke; T Furman, K Leahy, Derek Byrne. Subs: S Lawlor for Enda Dolan (half-time), C Weir for Reilly (44), E Christie for Leahy (51), C Moore for McCullagh (56), Reilly for Burke (75).

REF: R Malone (St Mary’s Saggart).