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Match report by Peter McGrath Jnr

ON Sunday, September 4th 2011, over 81,000 travelled to Croke Park for the All-Ireland Hurling final to see Kilkenny win back the Liam McCarthy cup, barely 80 made the trip to Loughinisland for a game where Bryansford emerged narrow winners.

It was a tough, competitive and hard hitting encounter with some good football from both sides. Jamie McKibben from Bryansford opened the scoring with a free but points for the hosts from Sean O Reilly and Conor McGoran briefly had them in the lead. Back came Bryansford though and Marc Brannigan played in Aidan Keenan to restore parity.

Jamie McKibben had a great chance of a goal on nine minutes but was superbly denied by a wonderful Chris Turley save. A close in free from Rory Mason and a fine Johnny Finn point from much further out left Bryansford with a little work to do but with the breeze at their backs they proved up to the challenge. Neil Murray made an incisive run and hit a decisive shot over the Loughinisland bar and between two superb Rory Mason points, one from an acute angle, one from fifty metres, Jamie McKibben managed to point another free.

Brothers Marc and Seamus Brannigan added scores to leave it all square at six points apiece and then Marc Brannigan made a strong run, cut inside, fisted across to Seamus once more and he palmed to the net directing the ball to the left of the diving Turley in the goal. A fourth point from Rory Mason was Loughinisland’s last score of the first half and quickfire points from Aidan Keenan, Neil Murray and Daniel McDonald meant that at the interval Bryansford held a relatively comfortable 1.9 – 0.7 lead.

And at the beginning of the second half the Ford picked up where they left off with two more points being registered. Marc Brannigan made a great catch, played the ball on to Johnny Cunningham, and he set up Seamus Brannigan who in turn found Jamie McKibben and ended the string of lateral passes with a point.

The second score of the half was added by Ryan McDonald who along with Daniel and Aaron was one of a set of three brothers on the field. Conor McGoran kept Loughinisland in touch with a point but Jamie McKibben reopened the seven point advantage with a free. Loughinisland then, when some teams would have surrendered, fought back with a vengeance.

Rory Mason pointed a free then the same player got a brace of goals, the first an opportunist finish as he pulled on a ball rolling across the box, the second a penalty which was driven high to the roof of the net. Suddenly, from a position where they seemed comfortable. Bryansford suddenly found themselves only one ahead and playing into a breeze but a fantastic 45 against that wind from ‘keeper Sean James Brannigan meant that they doubled a lead and they did manage to build on it a little. Jamie McKibben  did take a late point to leave the margin of victory more comfortable than it otherwise may have been.

Loughinisland scorers; Rory Mason 2-5, Conor McGoran 0-2, Sean O Reilly 0-1, Johnny Finn 0-1.

Bryansford scorers; Jamie McKibben 0-4, Seamus Brannigan 1-1, Marc Brannigan 0-3, Neil Murray 0-2, Aidan Keenan 0-2, Sean James Brannigan 0-1, Daniel McDonald 0-1, Ryan McDonald 0-1.