St. Bride’s captain Aimee McNally believes the pain of last year’s heavy county final defeat was a major factor as the Knockbridge outfit caused a major shock by beating holders and hot favourites Geraldines in the Division 1 League final by 1-8 to 0-9 at Clan na Gael Park.
t was a far cry from the last time the teams met back in September in the Championship final when the Gers retained their title on a 6-14 to 0-4 scoreline.
The winners had to withstand a lot of pressure in the closing stages as keeper Sarah Kieran pull off a brilliant penalty save while the Brides were grateful for the intervention of the crossbar to keep out Sandra Neary’s rasping shot in the game’s last action before they held their nerve to deservedly record a historic first ever senior triumph.
Winning captain Aimee McNally felt lessons were learned from last year’s defeat and this was a chance to show what her team was capable of.
“Naturally, there were nerves from everyone but as a team we were looking forward to the match. We had a successful league campaign so we tried to view the final as just another game. Of course we learned a lot from last year’s defeat. This final was a good opportunity to show the football we have in the Brides that people didn’t see in last year’s final.
“We knew from before just how quickly the Geraldines can get on top and maintain a lead so I suppose to get the opening few scores helped settle everyone into the game and remind them that we could do it,” explained Aimee.
“In fairness it was a great battle from start to finish but I would say Ruth Hanna’s goal was a turning point. I think it just lifted everyone and helped motivate girls to keep fighting until the end,” added the captain who feels that the win will boost confidence for the upcoming championship campaign.
“It’s great to finally win silverware at senior level of course but you’re only ever as good as your last game. Championship football is always more competitive too so we definitely won’t be getting carried away with the win. Plenty of preparation is being put in for championship at the minute which I’m sure is the case for most clubs,” she continued.
Aimee also paid tribute to the new management team this season of Frank Noonan and Robbie McEnteggart who were instrumental in the success.
“I don’t know if it’s so much about what they have done differently but more so about how they have been able to fine tune some of the things we had been working on for years beforehand. Frank and Robbie have brought some fresh, new ideas and approaches to trainings too. We’ve been fortunate with managers’ commitment in the past and the lads are no different. We are a very lucky group to have them,” revealed Aimee who was also full of praise for the supporters who came out in such large numbers and helped create a wonderful atmosphere.
“It was fantastic to see neighbours and friends out in their red and white at the match. Knockbridge is a great parish for supporting each other in all codes so we never doubted that the community would back us. We were very grateful though that people made the effort to come to the game. It was a privilege to finally celebrate in the village.”
According to the captain, the victory was not only savoured by the players, but also the people who stayed with the club through the hard times and also the founding members, such as Irene Brennan, Anne Sweeney, Rose McGeeney, Caroline Lynch, Caroline McGee, Caroline Dunne, Mary McKenna and Rosemary Reilly.
“Of course, anyone playing football knows that it’s not just the team on the day that’s responsible for the win. There’s a lot more people involved in the build up to get the team to that stage. St. Brides Ladies GFC’s founder Irene Brennan and others like my mam built the club from the ground up. Their commitment, attitude and graft in the earlier years are the reasons so many of us are still playing and more importantly enjoying our football today. They had a more significant role in our win then they might realise,” concluded a very proud Aimee.