St Bernard’s 2
Mervue United 0
Mike Rafferty in Abbeyknockmoy
IT was fitting that the new Western Hygiene Supplies Premier Division champions should be crowned on their own patch in Abbeyknockmoy on Sunday and, in the process, see off one of the most decorated teams in the history of the local game.
Going into the contest, St Bernard’s needed just a point to clinch a first ever Brod Trill title and they did it in style as goals in each half by Tom Ford and Craig Kennedy ensured a happy ending not only for the players and management, but for those who made the trek up the hill to witness the occasion.
Now this success is not an overnight sensation as for many years the club has contended at the top end of the table, but for a variety of reasons they would slip off the pace as the pressure built in the closing weeks of the campaign.
This season was similar to previous ones – just that they stuck in there and with belief and ability to the fore, they maintained their challenge to the end. A huge 4-3 home win over leaders at the time, Corrib Rangers, at the end of January certainly gave them the belief that they could maintain their challenge.
While enjoying games in hand, they were always in the top four in the table and aided by goals by Adrian Roche and Craig Kennedy they reached the summit for the first time at the beginning of May – ironically, with a 2-0 away win over Mervue United in Fahy’s Field.
Thereafter, they held on to the top spot and while there was a blip against second placed Salthill Devon, they still maintained a cushion that was to see them through to Sunday’s finale.
The St Bernard’s performances in recent time had been somewhat nervous. That was certainly understandable as they closed in on history, but an early goal was the perfect start they needed on this occasion.
On just three minutes, Jason Finn swung in a deep corner and Tom Ford made it 1-0 with a strong far post header past Keith McHugh. Just like the previous week against Corrib Celtic, when they scored twice early on, it was just the start they needed.
Now inspiration comes from within and when captain Darren Finn dropped his family at the airport on Saturday and saw them off on holiday, while he postponed his departure for 24 hours in order to play, it spoke volumes for the man and his team. Allied to his outstanding leadership, he went close to scoring on a number of occasions – as just direction was an issue with a number of headers.
Now Mervue United’s Keith McHugh is a man of many parts and while mainly known as a central defender, he occasionally slots into a striking role and not for the first time, was manning the posts on this occasion. To say he made a remarkable impression is a total understatement as two of his saves in the opening half were just magnificent.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.