Antrim Senior Reserve Football Division 2
St Brigid’s fan Conall Cahill gives his thoughts on Wednesday evening’s Senior Reserve football game against Glenravel, where Mickey McIlthatton certainly did exist.
Con Magee’s, Glenravel 0-9 v St Brigid’s GAC 3-11
Glenravel legend Mickey McIhatton
“In Glenravel’s Glen there lives a man whom some would call a god”, croons Christy Moore (in his song ‘McIlhatton’), “for he could cure your shakes with a bottle of his stuff, would cost you thirty bob”. Well, we aren’t sure if McIlhatton still makes poitín in Glenravel, or indeed if such a figure ever existed. But St Brigid’s Reserves co-manager Mark Kelly and coach/motivator/social secretary Conor Taylor would surely have taken the hand off the man should he have surfaced with a bottle of the good stuff fifteen minutes into the second half of Wednesday’s league clash in the picturesque settings of Con Magee’s, Glenravel, as ball after ball was spilled by their charges in the slippy conditions. Nevertheless, St Brigid’s would regain their composure and emerge with a well-earned win.
Glenravel – bolstered by the appearance of one Henry Duffin in defence, a man more than familiar with several St Brigid’s players as the former St Bride’s P.S. Raffo Cup mastermind – appeared to be fit and ready for action at the start of the game, slotting some good scores as the visitors tried to find their feet. But a good free from Rory Flanagan and an excellent point from Chris McCann (more from him later) settled St Brigid’s, the latter after fine work from Matt Kelly and Brendy McDonald, who was causing havoc up front. Joe 90 and Dee ‘Bine’ Brennan were industrious in the backline and middle third respectively for the away side as St Brigid’s started to gain more control. But it was McCann who would deliver the first crucial blow in the South Belfast side’s favour. Receiving the ball close to goal and turning his marker sharply, McCann appeared to have over-done a toe-tap, allowing the goalkeeper to close in. Surely, the chance was gone.
“Ah, but that’s where he gets you, you see.”
“I know, I’m about to explain.”
“Oh. Do carry on.”
Like many unfortunate goalkeepers before him (and many more to come no doubt, currently blissfully unaware of the embarrassment hurtling towards them) the valiant home stopper closed in to smother the ball, only to look back at his net and find the ball nestling peacefully within its grasp. Once more, McCann – fresh from boasting pre-match of the regularity with which he has recently been practising his BBQ skills – had done the business. But he wasn’t finished yet. More havoc caused by McDonald and Flanagan up front led to a scrambled goal from the same figure – and St Brigid’s went in to half-time several points ahead, with Shane ‘Low-key’ Boyle also pointing a fine effort for Kelly’s charges.
The second half was decidedly scrappier than the first, with both sides making errors in the rain and as they tired (and as they brought on even more tired substitutes). Recent St Brigid’s recruit Brian Hallihan from Waterford started to exert his influence on the game, sweeping to fine effect and collecting any loose ball that threatened to end up near Stevie Morrisey’s goal, while Ryan Daly mixed slightly delirious marauding runs past the half-way line with solid defending at the back. Special praise, however, must be reserved for Owen Winters, lined out at left corner-back. Despite shipping a heavy knock in the first half, Winters continued his excellent performance right to the final whistle, displaying particularly Winters-esque qualities when one opponent made the rather unwise decision to try and go directly past him with the ball, only to receive a brief yet quite sturdy lesson in the laws of physics.
From one redhead to another: St Brigid’s bolstered their ranks in the second half with the introduction of a certain Stevie O’Neill. Returning to a pitch where he had previous scoring form, Dr O’Neill appeared determined from the moment he appeared on the field to repeat this success. And, when presented with the ball in front of goal – in circumstances not dissimilar from the point scored by club cult hero Dan ‘The Bomber’ Dale last season – O’Neill fired low, hard…and just over the crossbar. Along with McCann completing his hat-trick with another excellent finish – not to mention an exquisite point with the outside of his boot from Eddie McKeever – this was the icing on the cake in a fine win for St Brigid’s on a difficult night for football against brave opposition.