Tuesday, 26 November 2013 11:51
Castlebar Mitchels 3-13 .. St. Brigid's 2-12 after extra time. FRESH legs won the day for Castlebar Mitchels in a Connaught final full of incident, high on drama and packed with passion and commitment, and ultimately decided in the second period of extratime when the Mayo champions hit four points without reply from St. Brigid’s of Roscommon.
The four-in-a-row seeking Connaught champions did not give up their title without a struggle and at one point looked as if they would retain it with some ease.
They took a five-point lead with them to the dressing room at half-time - 1-6 to 1-1 - but before the game had ended in normal time, they suffered a 10-point swing as Mitchels benefited from the half-time dressing room metamorphosis and, no doubt, a tongue-lashing from manager Pat Holmes.
But this game, high in suspense and drama all through, was overshadowed somewhat by some baffling refereeing decisions, with three players from the Roscommon side dispatched on red cards, while Barry Moran also took a straight red seven minutes into the second half to leave his team with 14 men until Castlebar returned to the full compliment of 15 for extratime.
The extraordinary fact is this was never a dirty game in the old meaning of the word and was generally fought in the true spirit of the game.
The drama reached its pinnacle as the 60 minutes of normal time elapsed and Castlebar launched one lastgasp attack in an attempt to pull the game from the burning flames that surrounded them and force extra-time.
Controversial referee Marty Duffy seemed to spread his hands as an indication the game was over just as Tom King had taken a massive hit from behind from Darragh Donnelly.
As Castlebar sought their just rewards for a free, St. Brigid’s protested that the referee had clearly indicated that the game had finished.
As a huge crowd at Hyde Park awaited the conclusion to be resolved, Castlebar were given the lifeline of a free, which was dispatched by Neil Douglas to force 20 minutes of extra-time as the game ended Castlebar 3-8, St. Brigid’s 2-11.
And this was where Castlebar showed the fresher legs as the weary Roscommon boys were just clinging on for dear life and managed to squeeze just one more point for the remaining 20 minutes.
That came in the first period of extra-time, which ended 3-9 to 2-12 - Tom King and Senan Kilbride trading free, but there was another controversial twist when full-back Darragh Donnelly was sent off, leaving St. Brigid’s down to 14 men for most of the first period of extra-time and all of the second.