Signing off on a high

by Stephen Findlater
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ST BRIGID’S co-manager Mark Byrne described the end of his and Gerry McEntee’s announcement that they would be finishing up with the club’s senior footballers as like “a death in the family”.

They signed off last Thursday night in perfect style, winning AFL division one with a 2-10 to 0-12 victory over St Sylvester’s in Balgriffin.

It capped a memorable four year tenure for the duo, one which began in the aftermath of the side’s relegation to AFL2.

Within two seasons, they had league promotion and the Dublin senior football championship under their belt and this league success was, for Byrne, “a brilliant way to finish up”.

“We have had four brilliant years,” he told GazetteSport. “Obviously the championship was a highlight. When we started, the lads were very much down in the dumps being relegated to division two and now we’re up there winning championships and division one, you can’t ask for better than that.”

His side trailed for much of the second half but, inspired by Daire Plunkett’s 52nd minute goal, they produced a brilliant closing phase to run out handsome winners.

For Byrne, the late burst was indicative of the desire his side had to get something out of the year after a disappointing exit from the championship at the quarter-final stage against Ballyboden St Enda’s.

They took a break after that loss but, as a group, decided that the league was certainly something worth putting in a big push to win.

“I thought the lads were brilliant. We stopped training after the championship but thought, two or three weeks ago, we will come back and give this a really good go.

“The lads have been going since January 2 and, against a really good Sylvester’s team, I am really proud of how they came back.”

He will miss working with Meath legend McEntee and the players.

“It’s a brilliant way to finish up. Saying we were going to leave was like a death in the family. We’ve all become great friends and there is a mutual respect there, a bond that won’t be broken easily.

“To say goodbye after the four years, it is heart-wrenching but it is time for a fresh voice and these lads deserve it. If I was to stay on, it would be for selfish reasons so I’m happy enough.

“I haven’t thought about what is next. I just wanted to win this and go out on a high. For next year, I’ll sit down and reassess but I reckon they will try and rope me into a junior team!”

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