Salthill-Knocknacarra far too strong for disappointing Shamrocks outfit

Salthill-Knocknacarra’s John Maher and Cortoon-Shamrock’s Derek Savage during the Senior Football Championship semi-final at Tuam Stadium. Salthill-Knocknacarra v Cortoon-Shamrocks.

Salthill-Knocknacarra’s John Maher and Cortoon-Shamrock’s Derek Savage during the Senior Football Championship semi-final at Tuam Stadium. Salthill-Knocknacarra v Cortoon-Shamrocks.

orthy 1-11 to 0-8 winners over a disappointing and lacklustre Cortoon Shamrocks in Sunday's county senior semi-final at Tuam Stadium.

The city side always looked the more powerful and superior, and in youngsters John Maher and Robert Finnerty, who were both on the county minor team this year, they had a sprinkling of talented youth that Cortoon could not match.

That duo hit a combined 0-5, with Maher also showing fantastic work-rate for the entire game.

Wing-forward Marcus MacDonnacha can also be put in that category of Salthill players with pace and an eye for a score. He notched his second goal in as many championship games with a slick finish after being set up by some creative play by former county star Sean Armstrong, who had a big influence on proceedings and won a good bit of ball.

It was level at half-time, 0-6 each, with Cortoon doing well to stay in touch considering key forward Adrian Varley was clearly hampered by injury. He could only notch one point from play as he was well marshalled by county colleague Finian Hanley.

Varley did not reappear in the second half and it was a big psychological blow for Paul Bradley’s men who were far too dependent on Derek Savage for leadership and creativity up front.

Savage, who did his Leaving Cert more than 20 years ago, kicked half of Cortoon’s total scores, and tells you all you need to know about their paucity in attack.

Joseph Donnellan tried hard too and hit 0-2, but they never looked like scoring a badly-needed goal with Gavin Duffy, Jack Killeen, substitute Evan Wynne and team captain Conor Halloran resolute in the Salthill defence.

The Seasiders had to line out without their influential midfielder Conor Healy and they will be hoping he can play a role in the county final against Corofin which is fixed for Pearse Stadium on Sunday week (October 23 ).

In his absence Barry Kelly and Robert Butler manned the engine room and they ensured a plentiful supply for dual player Tadhg Haran, Armstrong, MacDonnacha and Finnerty to hit the match winning scores.

Reality check for Cortoon

This defeat was a harsh reality check for Cortoon.

They will need four or five new quality young players to come through in the next few years if they are to have any hope of making a breakthrough to the top tier in the county. And for a small club like Cortoon, guys like that will not be easily found.

Players such as David Finnegan, Paul Varley, Martin Boyle, Cathal Mulryan, Brian Roache and Matthew Concannon, along with Savage and Donnellan, tried hard for the cause, but their overall mix was just not good enough.

They are a competitive side, as evidenced by their wins this year in the championship over the likes of Kilconly, St Michael's and Na Breathnaigh. Unfortunately, however, there is still a very significant gap between them and Salthill, Mountbellew-Moylough, and of course the standard bearers for consistency for the past 25 years, Corofin.

Final point on the game last weekend; referee Shane Hehir can be quite pedantic and fastidious in his approach.

His constant, and at times overuse of the "feadóg", can stifle the game and stop it getting into a good flow which any exciting championship game wants.

He has many positives as a referee. He is very fit and keeps up with the game extremely well, nevertheless, if he allowed play develop a bit more at times, it would make for better spectacles and more free-flowing contests.

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