In a new series Meath Live takes a sideways look at a big game every month and we start with the north Meath derby in the JFC.
St Brigids 1-5
The woman behind the counter in the shop in Ballinlough hadn’t a clue where the GAA pitch was, but the two hardy bucks of young fellas, (when in north Meath it’s best to talk like a native), told Meath Live’s undercover agent to follow them.
It’s not actually that hard to find if you know how to use Google Maps, an Atlas and have access to whatever you need to navigate dark country roads.
However it is well worth the effort as the floodlights beam down on well manicured grass and work on a splendid new changing rooms/clubhouse appears to be getting under way.
It’s obvious the only thing stopping the club hosting big games is its location, mind you if the Cavan county committee are ever stuck for a venue they could do worse it really is a lovely little ground.
And tonight while it’s capacity is not stretched St Brigids and Carnaross have both brought decent support although the Ballinacree boys far outnumber the Carnaross crew.
Larry McEntee, rather like his relative Helen is in charge of justice and throws the ball in on the dot of eight, that’s council timekeeping at its best.
And McEntee goes on to display a hitherto unknown requirement in refereeing circles, the ability to walk rather than run and still maintain control.
At no point in the game apart from restarts was he closer than thirty metres from the action yet somehow he kept a tight rein on proceedings it might have been luck, it may have been experience.whatever it was it worked and he couldn’t be faulted at all.
He rode his luck though as the sides engaged in a longer than normal getting to know you period that should have seen Donal Plunkett of St Brigids and Darragh O’Reilly of Carnaross exit early, at least two punches and one kick were thrown in a brief flurry but the linesman was engaged in either counting cattle in a nearby field, or exchanging pleasantries with the people he knew, and from our observation eyrie he knew a LOT of people.
The fact that the teams reached the interval level at 0-4 each says it all about the paucity of performance with Carnaross midfielder Cian McGlynn being guilty of a spectacular 22nd minute miss wkith the goal at his mercy.
The Saints skipper, centre half back Michael Flood, had been desinated to the full back slot to try and curb the Caranaross talisman Frank Reilly and he made a decent job of it, however when he got possession he inevitably charged out to thundering roars from the faithful which soon turned to groans when his distribution tended to be like that of DHL when the staff are on strike, very hit and miss.
Another stand out performer was Brigid’s goalkeeper, Dara Moore, now how good he is at saving shots we will have to wait to find out, but his handling of high balls was exemplary.
However the best moment of the opening period came outside the fence.
A hefty challenge, one of many, by a Carnaross attacker resulted in a female fan of the Saints screaming, ‘Yellow yellow’, as she demanded a card, prompting a diehard Carnaross man to shout, ‘Oh shut the f**k up’ across the pitch!
The second half mirrored the first but did produce the games only goal.
A high ball into the Carnaross goalmouth allowed ‘keeper Shane McNiffe and one of his defenders to momentarily forget they were on the same team and really should try and avoid colliding with each other, the ball falling free to be belted home.
At that stage the winners took over and Reilly started to dart here there and everywhere and one inch perfect cross from him should have beenfinished to the net but a possee of defenders got the block in.
In a way that summed up the game, a lot of heart, determination and courage but very little skill.
Still the pitch was nice.