Cumann Lúthchleas Gael Uladh

Cross claim fifth Club Title

March 18th, 2011

AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final
Crossmaglen Rangers 2-11 St Brigid’s 1-11

Crossmaglen Rangers claimed their fifth AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship with a 2-11 to 1-11 defeat of St Brigid’s at Croke Park.

It was a victory fashioned thanks to true Orchard County grit, as Cross’ returned to the pinnacle of Club football for the fist time since 2007 with a doughty performance against a Brigid’s side that was overly-reliant on the excellent Senan Kilbride.

Kilbride kicked 0-8 of the Roscommon champions’ total, but he was frequently ploughing a lone furrow in attack, whereas Cross’ had match winners in both Oisín McConville and Jamie Clarke.

Clarke scored 1-3 from play, including the crucial goal after 39 minutes, when he latched on to a breaking ball, shimmied through a crowded goalmouth and delivered what proved to be the knockout blow.

Cross’ never looked back and did not relinquish their advantage, maintaining at least a two-point lead over the remaining 26 minutes of the game.

While they came under intense pressure in spells, especially in the final quarter, Crossmaglen were ruthlessly efficient in front of goals, failing to register a single wide in the entire second half. Oisín McConville’s experience was vital too, the veteran forward notching four points alone in the second half, including a superbly-struck free on 53 minutes, which soothed Crossmaglen nerves just when Brigid’s had built up a head of steam and looked ready to mount a late comeback.

The final minutes were not without their nervy moments, though, as Senan Kilbride had a great goal chance with two minutes left on the clock, but his arrowed shot flashed just over the bar.

It was not to be for Brigid’s, who perhaps lacked the experience and nous Cross’ have in abundance, but the Roscommon champions will still look back on the game as an opportunity lost on their first appearance in the Senior Club decider.

After an evenly contested first half in which Senan Kilbride kicked five points for the Roscommon champions, Cross’ trailed by 1-6 to 1-5.

Aaron Cunningham had netted the opener for Crossmaglen in the 23rd minute after David McKenna won possession in the danger zone and fed the full-forward, who ripped an unstoppable shot past Philip Martin.

Brigid’s were four points down but refused to drop their heads and quickly went about dragging themselves back into the game. Franke Dolan, playing in a free role, was having considerable joy with long, diagonal balls into Senan Kilbride. For Brigids’ goal, in the 25th minute, Kilbride failed to gather possession from Dolan’s pass but the ball broke to Sheehy, who finished past Hearty at the second attempt.

Brigid’s had their tails up and within a minute they were level, with Kilbride lacing his fourth of the game with a sublime point from play. The momentum was with Noel O’Brien’s side and they didn’t relent. Indeed, Kilbride snaffled a free three minutes into injury time to give Brigid’s a slender lead at the break.

Brigid’s made it 1-2 without reply when Frankie Dolan scored his only point of the game immediately after the restart, before Crossmaglen made their winning burst for the line.

McConville and then Clarke found the target to level the game, before the game-changing score arrived in the 39th minute, when Clarke scored a brilliantly-taken goal. To hammer home their advantage, McConville dropped over another free. Having trailed by two in the 32nd minute, Cross’ had turned the tables and raced into a four-point lead.

In the end, it was enough to see the Ulster men over the line, who despite a late wobble or two, held on for their first All-Ireland title since 2007 and their fifth in total.

Crossmaglen Scorers: A Kernan 0-1 (0-1f), J Clarke 1-3, A Cunningham 1-0, O McConville 0-6 (0-4f), K Carragher 0-1.

St Brigid’s Scorers: K Mannion 0-1, E Sheehy 1-0, Cathal McHugh 0-1, S Kilbride 0-8 (0-5f), F Dolan 0-1.

Crossmaglen: P Hearty; P McKeown, P Kernan, J Morgan; A Kernan, D O’Callaghan, S Finnegan; J Hanratty, D McKenna; J Clarke, S Kernan, F Hanratty; T Kernan, A Cunningham, O McConville. Subs: J McEntee for Hanratty (29), M McNamee for Cunningham (40), M Ahern for T Kernan (49), K Carragher for S Finnegan (53), F Bellew for S Kernan (60).

St Brigid’s: P Martin; R Kelly, D Donnelly, D Sheehy; I Kilbride, P Domican, G Cunniffe; G Dolan, K Mannion; E Sheehy, Cathal McHugh, D Nolan; Conor McHugh, S Kilbride, F Dolan. Subs: John Tiernan for Cathal McHugh (21), Damien Kelleher for Conor McHugh (52), D O’Connor for J Tiernan (58).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

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