Reserve ‘B’ Championship, Quarter-Final
St Brigid’s Reserves took on their counterparts from Ahoghill in this Reserve Championship quarter-final at a bitterly cold and windy ‘Dub’, where in front of a few bitterly cold (and windy) spectators the two sides conspired to produce a fairly bizarre game of football that saw St Brigid’s nearly throw away an eight-point second half lead, leaving gaffer Damien Judge
pulling his hair out going buck mad on the sideline before his team eventually eased ahead.
St Brigid’s started well, with a fine point from Chris McCann followed by a close-range goal from Peter Henvey following a slick team move, starting with a well-placed kickout from Kevin McGovern and good movement from Gerard Henvey in the St Brigid’s backline. McCann seemed to be on form again, with one outrageous overhead catch followed shortly afterwards by a very well-taken goal (don’t get ahead of yourself Chris, we’ll come to your ‘shot’ in a minute). Oran Boyle narrowly avoided decapitation from an Ahoghill defender and slotted a point following good work from Chris ‘McEnroe’ Quinn and Luke ‘Sulta’ McKeever, who was displaying signs of the promise he showed at U12 level under Enda Cullen’s management.
St Brigid’s were mixing the sublime with the truly horrendous, however. While Peter Henvey completed a spin that would satisfy Billy Elliot followed by a pick-up that echoed Marty Clarke in his heyday, McCann produced a shot that made the eyes water and caused the already-shivering crowd to shiver further with disgust, forcing umpire Eamon Convery to abandon his post and chase the errant ball down into the bushes about two miles to the right of the goals. Nevertheless St Brigid’s went in at half-time ahead convincingly, by 2-4 to 0-2 at half-time.
At half-time, experienced head Barry McMahon urged caution to the St Brigid’s men. The job wasn’t done yet. Sure, Barry. We’re eight points up and flying. What could possibly go wrong?
Ahoghill came out for the second half and were a completely different side – as were St Brigid’s, only moving in the opposite direction. From long-range frees to outside-of-the-boot crackers, everything the away side hit seemed to go over as St Brigid’s struggled to get out of their own half. The home spectators began to get edgy, with one injured corner-back focussing his ire on club captain Ruairi O’Neill’s decision to wear his good brown work shoes up to the mucky ‘Dub’ (“They’ll only be ruined on him – and you can print that”, he angrily protested).
The turning point in the game came when Ahoghill smashed the Brigid’s crossbar and then hit the post immediately afterwards. They managed to get a point from the move, but St Brigid’s finally sparked into life after the escape. Brendy McDonald got his big paws on the end of an attack to net shortly before McCann slotted from a Quinn assist. Then a speculative looper from Eddie McKeever slipped through the away keeper’s hands and the game was sealed, before Cathal Conway scored a final three-pointer.
Meanwhile, Paul Finnegan was kept on the field despite showing clear signs of delirium, shooting from impossible distances. After one particularly woeful effort, there was an eruption of laughter, upon which I turned to see which supporter it was – only to realise that it was Finno himself that was laughing as he ran back to defend.
A strange game overall, but a win’s a win. Nevertheless St Brigid’s will need to improve when they take on All Saints, Ballymena in next Wednesday’s semi-final. Keep your eye on our Facebook/Twitter for the venue.
Man of the Match: Owen Winters, who confirmed his status as the ginger Chuck Norris by performing as umpire wearing shorts on a night that’d make an Eskimo wince.
FT: St Brigid’s 6-7 St Mary’s, Ahoghill 0-10