288 days have passed since the last time the St. Brendan's Mens Football 1st XV (Sponsored by Michael Cox Furniture) were in action. Since then we have had the mother and father of all pandemic lockdowns and heaven knows were we even going to see any action at all. Thankfully the vaccines have been rolling out (have you got yours?) Covid Cases are coming down and Ireland is coming out of a long and lenghty lockdown and we can finally see some action on the field of play. First up for the 1st XV is a League opener against Naomh Olaf in the Go-Ahead Transport AFL5 South.
South? Aren't St Brendan's North of the Liffey? Yes we are, but with the Dublin County Board deciding to split the divisions North and South and with 9 North Side clubs in Division 5, Because St Brendan's is the most southerly of the North County clubs, we were put into Division 5 South.
St Brendan's welcomed back John Burns and Stephen Durcan in the black and amber after a year's hiatus. The first game of the 2021 season and four minutes in and Ger Bannon got the opening score for The Dark Force. After flick pass from James McGee and a daisy cutter goal attempt from Cillian went wide, Luke 'The Miracle Worker' McDonagh won the Olaf's kick out and got fouled in the process, McDonagh played his free to Cillian and Finally onto Ger Bannon and the point.
After a attack from Olaf's was turned over by The Castlebar Mitchell Colm Harte, John Feeney made the final pass to Cillian made up for the wide earlier on by adding the second point of the afternoon and from a tight angle too.
The away side got on the board after nine minutes, Eoghan 'Mr.Twitter' Clogher's kick out was caught by Ferdia Donohoe but was fouled in the process, the free was played to Phil Bannon and finally onto John Feeney to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
Naomh Olaf could have got a goal but the forward was caught between two minds after Stephen Durcan tracked back to intervene and force the ball over, rather then under the bar. Burns won the kickout with an Aussie Rules esque Mark, played a daisy cutter pass to James Mcgee but was tripped as he picked up the ball. The free in was played to McDonagh who also got fouled in the process but his free in went wide.
After the first half Swig Of The Magic Bottle, St Brendan's made it 0-4 to 0-2 but could have been 0-3 to 1-2 after an Olaf player, with an empty goal at his mercy, palmed the ball off the post and cleared by Stephen Durcan, the ball moved up the field and after a foul on McGee, Cillian notched up the fourth point and even got the fifth point from play 0-5 to 0-2.
Both sides traded points between the 20th and 22nd point, John Burns scoring the sixth point after a foul on Phil Bannon, Burns with the three step build up not seen since 2019. McGee won an Advanced Mark off a long ball from John Feeney, took the shot very delicately and over the bar 0-7 to 0-3. Indeed The Milltown Four Star could have got a goal when a low shot from Cillian found me McGee but his attempted volley was totally miscued and the ball sailed harmlessly wide.
Another point followed for Olaf's but St Brendan's had to play the final five minutes of the first half with 14 players after Oisin Carley was black carded for an indicent missed by this writer. Half time score 0-7 to 0-4 for St Brendan's.
It was all Olaf's in the second half as they turned the screw in the begining of the second half but hit three consecutive wides, the third of which was disputed, before finally hitting their first point of the second half and fifth overall.
After The Wexican Oisin Carley returned to the field, St Brendan's were back down to 14 men with Phil Bannon getting black carded for a late challenge. Another St Brendan's goal opportunity went a begging went Cillian's shot was saved, Luke McDonagh was about to recycle the ball with a pick up but was shouldered off the ball and the ball sailed harmlessly wide.
The Olaf's persistance prevailed and with 10 minutes to the Sandyford side took the lead with their fourth point of the second half and eighth overall, indeed they hit a ninth point to make it 0-9 to 0-7.
Phil Bannon, fresh from his enforced 10 minute break, took a free in, after been recklessly challanged which resulted in an Olaf's Red Card, passed the free to his brother Ger and ontowards Oisin Carley and the Wexican scored what turned out to be the only St Brendan's point in the second half.
Then in injury time, St Brendans's had a chance to snatch the victory in the end when a vertical ball from Carley found John Burns who half connected the ball with his fist and was within inches of crossing the line when Olaf's cleared the lines and victory was their's.
So disappointtment for St Brendan's on the opening match of AFL5 South and with six more matches left, the team dont need any slip ups, next up in two weeks time is a trip to Cornelscourt and a fixture against Geraldine P Moran's.
Final score from Grangegorman, St Brendan's 0-8 Naomh Olaf 0-9.