St Brigid’s wait for a Dublin Ladies Gaelic Football Association senior championship title goes on as their nemesis Foxrock Cabinteely proved too strong at St Margaret’s.
It was the fourth time they had lost in the final, the last three coming at the hands of the Foxes.
Brigid’s had started well, controlling the opening minutes of the contest. Louise O’Reilly knocked over the first score and the side in red took the game to the holders as they started with plenty of verve.
Foxrock Cabinteely are known for their potent attacking play, though, and after both sides hit wides, the Foxes first solid attack saw Laura Nerney played into space out on the right of the square, from where she cut inside and beat the helpless Dublin ‘keeper Ciara Trant from close range.
Niamh O’Donovan responded with a free, but Brigid’s strong start had been derailed, and what followed was to prove decisive.
With FoxCab getting to almost every loose ball first, they ran the game in midfield, creating a string of chances and denying Brigid’s the space to make waves themselves.
The pressure game paid off quickly as the Foxes controlled possession and made hay in a breathtaking 20 minutes burst.
The champions hit no less than nine consecutive points. First, Laura Nerney, Tarah O’Sullivan, Amy Ring and Hannah O’Neill found the space to slot over from flowing team moves.
Looking for a method to stifle the barrage, Brigid’s began to concede frees, and FoxCab proved they could score that way, too, with Amy Ring and Amy Connolly tapping over three more, before Connolly started charging into the full-forward line off the shoulders of defenders, and notched two more from open play.
A Niamh O’Donovan free after Brigid’s finally found a way out of Foxrock Cabinteely’s clutches slightly narrowed the margin to 1-9 to 0-3 in the holder’s favour.
She could have grabbed a couple more on the whistle, but it was only half time, and the damage looked to have been done.
Unsurprisingly, the contest tightened up in the second half.
While Brigid’s never really looked like closing the gap, they matched FoxCab point for point, and were marginally the better side after Amy Connolly and Tarah O’Sullivan’s early points had put the title’s destination beyond doubt.
Aisling Tarpey in the FoxCab goal was key to that: she stopped close-range one-on-one chances either side of half time, from Brigid’s forwards Louise Reilly and Emma Sherwood.
Brigid’s best moments came from allowing their key players to let loose: Noelle Healy and Sherwood had been their standouts throughout, and both got the points their marauding performances in the centre ground warranted. The outstanding Hannah O’Neill – a consistent thorn in the Brigid’s defense – continued to threaten, but the game began to ebb in pace and drive.
The winner had long been clear, so much so that Foxrock Cabinteely’s failure to score in the last 20 minutes of the contest proved almost entirely irrelevant.
Deirdre Murphy’s late point for Brigid’s was fitting reward for the torrid time the Brigid’s captain’s defence had had to endure at the back, but it was scant consolation for Brigid’s, who just couldn’t live with Foxrock Cabinteely on the day.
The Foxes’ fourth title in a row was their most convincing since an emphatic win kicked off this run of county titles back in 2015.
Their fluid attacking play could well take them deep into the All Ireland, too.