Salthill and Corofin qualify for county final
The two top football teams in the county in 2013 are Salthill and Corofin, and they will face each other in the county final on October 13 after their respective victories last weekend.
At Pearse Stadium, Salthill-Knocknacarra had too much guile, experience, and scoring power for an improving St James’ outfit.
Salthill, under the direction of Cathal McGinley this year, were 0-6 to 0-2 behind, heading for half time, despite enjoying a substantial wind, and things were not looking overly positive after 25 minutes of disjointed football.
Eoin Concannon was in sparkling form, had notched four points and was giving a tough time to Finian Hanley, as was corner forward Alan “Angles” O' Donnell on Cian Begely.
However a devastating scoring burst of five top-quality points from Sean Armstrong and Seamie Crowe saw the county champions go in at half time, 0-7 to 0-6, in front.
Once those two star forwards found the groove and received regular possession, it looked likely Frank Doherty's young side would be under pressure for a place in a first senior county final.
That is how it proved as the Seasiders ran out deserving winners by 0-13 to 0-11 to qualify for a second consecutive county final.
They had fine displays from Sean Armstrong, who hit 0-6 (2fs), and Seamie Crowe, who notched four points from play. Shane Nallen also caught the eye in goal.
St James had good performances from Eoin Concannon and veteran Mark Kelly, who played well and continued on for as long as he could after sustaining an injury. His last act of the day was to kick a superb point from distance that briefly renewed hope for Frank Doherty’s men.
In the evening throw-in at Tuam Stadium, David Morris and Stephen Rochford’s men had too much quality for Milltown.
Corofin advanced by 1-12 to 1-9 despite being down to 14 men for the entire second half after Alan O’ Donovan was given his marching orders.
Corofin regrouped at the break and three consecutive points after half time and a goal by Gary Sice put them in a strong position to advance.
James Kavanagh did well for his adopted club at midfield and they led in the early stages.
Corofin settled into the game in the second quarter and, with Ronan Steede managing to nullify Kavanagh’s influence around the middle, Milltown were pegged back.
Corofin led by a single point at the break, 0-6 to 0-5, but being down to 14 meant they needed a positive restart.
U-21 county star Ian Burke obliged with two rapid points and Corofin showed their experience then to keep Milltown at bay. Gary Sice fired in a goal and, despite a goaled penalty by Michael Martin five minutes from time, the 2011 champions were in control.
The hugely experienced and influential Kieran Comer hit a late point from a free to confirm another final appearance for the club .
The clash between the two former All-Ireland club champions is one to savour.