It's a joy to watch Hubert Darcy play 10 months ago

It's a joy to watch Hubert Darcy play

Padraig Pearses 1-13 Knockmore 1-11

Hubert Darcy headed back to the goals with a rueful smile and, as the referee blew his whistle for half-time, you could tell by the head on the Roscommon man that he was itching to get back to normality.

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It was a bit of a novelty and it's a story to tell but, as far as goalkeeping goes, it's not as easy as it looks. The funny thing is that, in this Connacht club football final, the first half began business as usual for the Roscommon man. Lorcan Daly was fouled and the game was only three minutes old when, with the pressure on, he shook the net with a peach of a penalty.

Seriously, you could spend the day watching the English Premier League and you'd do well to see one slotted with such confidence, assurance and class.

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It was around 20 minutes later when, with the same confidence and assurance, Darcy swapped jerseys with his team-mate and goalkeeper Paul Whelan to take on another job for his team. After getting caught in possession, Whelan was black carded for dragging a Knockmore man down with him and whether he liked it or not, with Whelan set for for ten minutes in the bin, Darcy was the chosen one.

You can see where Pat Flanagan was coming from, in fairness, given Darcy's coolness in possession and his technical gifts as one of the most skilful footballers around. Even at that, as the referee pulled him for time-wasting from a kick-out, as he ventured out from his goals and into trouble, he looked like a fish out of water and it was at the half-time break when he left the field with a smile. It's not as easy as it looks.

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Darcy came back for the second half, back into the Pearses forward line and it was like he never left. Along with the inspired Paul Carey, who kicked five from play, Darcy dictated this game with his calming influence and brilliant hold-up play. Knockmore got a lifeline through a fisted second half goal but with the Dalys on top, with Carey a weapon and with Darcy doing his thing, Pearses were never going to be caught.

Indeed, while Careys and the Dalys are brilliant, there's something about Darcy that you just have to admire. With that carefree demeanour, he's a throw-back to another era and, in between the soaring catches and that one time when he kicked the ball 40 yards down the other end of the field because a free was given against him, you just had to laugh.

In the end, isn't that what sport is all about.

Now, Pearses are Connacht champions for the first time ever. They'll head to Croke Park to take on Kilmacud Crokes and if they keep doing what they're doing, if Hubert Darcy keeps doing what he's doing, they'll have every chance.

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