All Ireland champions Corofin escape with injury-time draw

Alan O'Connor of Tuam Stars and Ian Burke Corofin in action from the Galway Senior Football Championship final at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Alan O'Connor of Tuam Stars and Ian Burke Corofin in action from the Galway Senior Football Championship final at Tuam Stadium on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

A last-gasp levelling score from Corofin's Gary Sice got his side out of jail to send the Galway Senior Football Championship final to a replay, 0-15 to 2-9.

On a dry day for football with the new Tommy Varden seated terrace open in Tuam Stadium for the first time, it was the perfect day for a game of football. And all credit to Tuam. Not given a chance by anyone outside of the town, they took the game to Corofin and were the better side for large periods of the match.

With Jamie Murphy subdued by Liam Silke, Brian Mannion became the tormentor-in-chief and he produced a superb display, scoring 1-1 and a penalty, which deservedly won him the man of the match award.

A well-worked goal in the 26th minute, finished to the net by Paul Collins, put Tuam into a four-point lead before Corofin reeled off three in a row from Leonard, Silke and Michael Farragher to leave the minimum in it at the break.

Tuam had been on top for most of the opening period, but squandered multiple chances that needed to be executed to put a side like Corofin to the sword. With Tuam eager to press and put Corofin on the back foot, there was plenty to admire about two splendid Jamie Murphy passes which allowed Brian Mannion to score two first-half points.

Without Corofin stalwart Kieran Fitzgerald, the Corofin back line always looked like it was missing something. Even at the age of 38, Fitzgerald has a massive influence, but the introduction of captain Michael Lundy at half-time, followed by Daithai Burke for the final 10 minutes, showed the strength in depth of this Corofin. With Lundy getting plenty of ball and Burke coming into midfield, it helped to shore up the Corofin side.

Early in the second half Kieran Molloy levelled the game before another brace of points from Mannion left Tuam 1-7 to 0-8 ahead. A foul on Jason Leonard gave Liam Silke the chance to put his side in control with a penalty, but after sending the keeper the wrong way, his spot kick rebounded off the post.

Corofin finally began to put the squeeze on the opposition when two points from Leonard levelled the game up again, before Sice put his side ahead for the first time since the 19th minute.

Tuam were then awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute when Mannion was fouled, and Jamie Murphy made no mistake rifling the ball to the back of Bernard Power’s net.

Corofin were on the ropes, but Tuam just could not finish them off. A gorgeous sideline point from Sice under pressure brought life back into his side, leaving a single point between the two protagonists. And after Murphy pointed again for his side, there seemed no way back for Corofin.

However, Gary Sice stepped up for his side, just as he has done on many occasions. Keeping calm under immense pressure, he scored two injury-time frees to deny Tuam a first county championship since 1994, and send the game to a replay.

COROFIN: B Power; C Cunningham, C Silke, C McGrath; R Mahon, L Silke (0-2 ), D McHugh; K Molloy (0-2 ), R Steede; G Sice (0-4, three frees ), D Wall, J Leonard (0-4, two frees ); Martin Farragher (0-1 ), Michael Farragher (0-2 ), I Burke.

Subs: M Lundy for Mahon (h/t ), D Burke for Cunningham (53 ), G Burke for Wall (59 ).

TUAM STARS: J Trayers; R O’Connor, A Tierney, B O’Donnell; G O’Donnell, D O’Rourke, B Mashengele; C Rhatigan, P Collins (1-0 ); N Henry (0-1 ), J Murphy (1-1, 1-0 pen ), S Kelly; B Mannion (0-5, two frees ), M Mannion, B O’Connell (0-1 ).

Subs: G Connell (0-1 ) for Henry (48 ), C McWalter for Kelly (56 ).

Referee: Gearoid O’Conamha.


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