Flashback: 2012 AIB All Ireland Club S-F - Garrycastle v St Brigid's
By Cian O'Connell
It was a match that dominated the agenda in Athlone for a couple of months.
A distance of 10 miles divides the clubhouses of Garrycastle and St Brigid's, who both collected silverware in different provinces at the end of the previous year.
Garrycastle triumphed in Leinster, while St Brigid's were the kings of Connacht. It meant an expectant crowd gathered at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park for a match featuring all sorts of family tussles.
Unsurprisingly there was drama from start to finish with Anthony Cunningham's sideline involvement adding an extra layer of intrigue.
At the time Cunningham had just taken charge of the Galway senior hurlers. Before his time in Garrycastle, Cunningham had occupied a vital role in developing Brigid's too.
On this occasion Cunningham triumphed as Garrycastle summoned a defiant second period display to claim a Croke Park appearance on St Patrick's Day.
Garrycastle trailed by 1-6 to 0-7 at the turnaround, but with Dessie Dolan supplying real leadership the Westmeath standard bearers responded.
"To be honest at half-time I was saying to the guys that we were going well," Cunningham reflected in the Glennon Brothers Pearse Park tunnel afterwards. "We were unlucky to be two points behind at half-time, maybe one or two of the players didn't agree with me, but we played well and got good scores.
"Overall we were happy with our performance, the best team probably won. Overall we were a little bit sharper."
Not even the dismissal of David O'Shaughnessy for a second yellow card in the second period could deny Garrycastle.
"It was a battle in the end when we went down to 14 men, but our lads put in a huge second half and we are delighted," Cunningham reflected.
Noel O'Brien, a man Cunningham knew well from his Brigid's days, acknowledged that Garrycastle were primed for this particular battle.
"We have to hand it to Garrycastle," O'Brien stated. "They didn't allow us to play, they won a lot of breaking ball in the middle of the field.
"They won most of the ball in the middle of the field and if you don't win it there you are always going to struggle.
"When we did get it I just feel we should have moved it faster and quicker to the forward line and the next week will be full of ifs and buts. Sometimes, though, you just have to give credit to the opposition."
For Cunningham it was a strange afternoon. "I have to say that the match was hardly over when there were loads of people over from Brigid's backroom team and players saying that whatever help they can give they will," Cunningham stated. "Last year Garrycastle would have been in Dublin en force to back them.
"It is hard for me because I am a Brigid's man and all of the players there I have trained or coached. We will pick their brains a bit, there is no doubt about that."
Garrycastle secured the midlands bragging rights.