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30 November 2006 Edition

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The Matt Treacy Ciolumn

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The man I most feel might have gotten one and didn't was Francie Bellew. He was brilliant in the Ulster final and but for one slip-up in the All Ireland quarter final against Kerry he had the best game of any full-back on Kieran Donaghy. Mind you, I would imagine that Francie will be happy enough if Cross continue on their winning ways. They survived a stern test from Clontibret last Sunday and now face Ballinderry in what promises to be a classic.

St. Brigid's of Kiltoom, the current Roscommon champions, are fast becoming the dark horses of this year's championship. Last Sunday in the Connacht final they defeated Corofin -- who had the audacity to beat Erin's Isle in the 1998 final -- in a thriller at Hyde Park.

It was a game that was referreed in 'swashbuckling' fashion by Vincent Neary of Mayo. In fairness to him he allowed the game to flow as best he could but the two sendings off were questionable in a game that was tough and hard but not dirty and in which both sets of players were conspicuous by the good spirit in which they delivered, and shipped tackles.

The only real unpleasantness occurred when one of the Corofin mentors decided to intervene and was clearly hit by Frankie Dolan. Far be it from me now to defend the belting of officials but your man had no business getting involved. Indeed, as was seen at Omagh last February, such uninvited guests are often the cause of mayhem. Fortunately this time both teams had the good sense to leave things be. And the official was left rolling on his back like a beetle for a few seconds before he scurried away.

Corofin had themselves survived the early sending off of Emmet Killeen, for an offence that I didn't think warranted a straight red, and they had two goals on the board before Brigid's had properly settled down. Once they did, however, and buoyed by Dolan's brilliant distribution of the ball, they strung over a succession of points to wipe out the Corofin lead by half time.

The second half witnessed stout defending by Corofin but the Roscommon men gradually got on top and for a while seemed to be heading for victory. Then disaster struck. Twice. First Alan O'Donovan converted a penalty for Corofin after some panicked defending under a high ball, and then shortly afterwards Robbie Kelly earned a second yellow and his marching orders for what was perhaps a clumsy but hardly a dangerous tackle.

Tom Costello added another point for Corofin and the game drifted into extra time with Brigid's looking beat. Then county veteran Karol Mannion stepped up to the plate when he blasted an unstoppable shot from 20 metres past Glen Comer. It is the first time that Brigids have won Connacht and the first time for a Roscommon team to advance since the hapless Clan na Gael who won seven Connacht titles in eight years between 1982 and 1989 but never the elusive All Ireland.

Mayo watchers will have noted that one of the key figures on the Brigid's sideline was John O'Mahony who recently took over as the Mayo manager from Mickey Moran who bore the brunt of the blame for the team's ignominious collapse against Kerry. O'Mahony has also seemingly been chosen as a Blueshirt candidate for Mayo in the next general election. Bookies are posting odds on his chances of both winning the seat and leading Mayo to an All Ireland. We wish him well in neither endeavour.

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