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St Brigid's and Offaly footballer Cian Donohue.
St Brigid's and Offaly footballer Cian Donohue.

Cian Donohue occupying central role for St Brigid's

By Eoghan Tuohey

It’s been a turbulent year for St. Brigid’s, the football-mad hamlet that shares a parish with perhaps its more well-known and decorated brethren, Rhode.

They were defeated in the Offaly Intermediate football final by Ferbane this year, after a replay, but still went forward as the Faithful representatives in the Leinster Junior Football series, as this was Ferbane’s second string side, and, as such, were ineligible to advance.

The defeat left a sour taste in the mouth, and it would have been easy to throw in the towel at that stage. However, the squad have instead used the opportunity to restore their pride, and have done so in style with three victories on the bounce en route to Saturday’s final against Dundalk Young Ireland’s.

“We would have gathered back together the Wednesday after the county final, and we’d have had a meeting before training, we just kind of said that we still had to go onto the Leinster campaign, which, at, the time, wasn’t the most appealing prospect, but, look, we said we’d give it a lash on the Saturday and we played the Meath champions, and we beat them,” says county representative, Cian Donohue.

“I suppose we gathered a bit of momentum after that then. We had games every two weeks and we were training away, that has led us to where we are now in this Leinster final.”

What the club lacks in size, it makes up for in passion, determination and resilience. They have punched above their weight throughout this Leinster journey, overcoming the Meath, Dublin, and Kildare champions, as faith is restored. It may not have been the way they wanted to embark on this quest, but they’ve adopted an admirable attitude in that, they’re here now, and they might as well make the most of it.

“It is indeed, yeah, (a chance for redemption) it’s a new thing for the club, it’s a position we’ve never been in before, there is a good buzz around the community, we’re only a small parish, there’s only maybe 500 people in our community,” Donohue states.

Cian Donohue has established himself as an important player for Offaly.
Cian Donohue has established himself as an important player for Offaly.

“We were relegated from senior last year, the initial plan was to come straight back up, but these things don’t always go to plan, so we’ll give this a rattle and then we’ll have to go back next year to the intermediate ranks again in Offaly.

“We beat the Meath champions, then the Dublin and Kildare champions. We have a good group of players, with plenty younger lads coming through. A lot of them probably wouldn’t have been in that position of being in a county final before, that was a new experience for them, and obviously, Saturday, will be a totally different experience altogether.

“Dundalk will probably be favourites going into the game, but we’ll see how it goes, they’re a big town, they’ve won their games convincingly so far, we’ll be going in as underdogs into this, but that won’t bother us.”

It’s a novel county pairing on Saturday, with no Louth side ever winning the Leinster Junior title, and the last Offaly side to claim it was back in 1999. That being the case, there’s a lot on the line, and history beckoning. St. Brigid’s are joined on the final stage by their fellow Offaly comrades, Shamrocks, who contest the Intermediate final.

“Yeah, there hasn’t been a winner in Leinster from Offaly in a few years. Rhode have been there in the senior of late, but I suppose to have two teams (Shamrocks in the Intermediate final) from the one county in Leinster finals is a good achievement.”

The side have a habit of starting slowly in games, a trait that Donohue acknowledges they will have to change if they are to emerge successful on Saturday. In particular, it was only through great endeavour that they saw off St. Finian’s of Dublin and Miltown of Kildare, where they trailed at a critical period in each game.

“It wouldn’t be intentional, (starting slowly) but it has been the case in a couple of games. The game against the Dublin champions, we were nine points down against them at one point, and we had a strong finish there, this Saturday we would be aiming to get off to a good start, we’ve been slow out of the blocks for a couple of games.”

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