Barna came to Tuam Stadium on Sunday afternoon intent on advancing to their first senior county final and they were not there to play pretty, expansive football.
They had a plan to get plenty of bodies behind the ball and win a tight encounter, and they almost pulled it off.
Their tactic of packing the defence and then getting fast ball up to the likes of Kieran Hanley and John Clifford had helped them to defeat Tuam and Annaghdown and they tried to replicate those successes.
However Corofin are well able to clog their defence too and, between the two of them, it made for some very unattractive periods of play
Pat Fallon’s men led by 0-4 to 0-1 after only 10 minutes, but the marvellous place-kicking of Corofin’s Alan O’Donovan kept his side in contention and the man from Curry hit his side’s first eight points, seven from frees.
Barna’s Paddy Kennedy hit two fine points early in the second half, but Barna could not build on his leadership and Corofin, going for the club’s first three-in-a-row in the county final, used all their experience and craft to grind out a narrow victory without playing particularly well.
No other player apart from O’Donovan in the Corofin starting 15 raised a white flag and it was left to their three subs, Joe Canney, Padraig Hanley and Tomás Costello, to augment his 0-8 (7fs ).
It was the introduction of their long term injury worry, Joe Canney, at half-time that provided the catalyst for some better football from Ger Keane’s team.
Canney’s industry, twists and turns, and a very fine point in the last quarter seemed to settle their nerves. Greg Higgins won ball around the middle and that possession did not allow Barna an opportunity to get the few scores that would have given them a chance to win.
Their team possessed a valiant work-rate and some solid displays from Paddy Naughton, Brian Conneely, Eoin McDonagh, DD Flaherty, Kieran Hanley, Paddy Kennedy and John Clifford, but they lacked the necessary guile and a few players to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and go for Corofin’s jugular.
Most of this Corofin bunch of players have, “been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt” as regards winning scrappy county-semi finals.
Aiden Donnellan, David Morris, Damien Burke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Alan Burke, Kieran McGrath, Greg Higgins and of course Alan O’Donovan have been down this road a good few years. They did just enough to get by and they will know they will have to improve to win back the Frank Fox.
They have a few weeks to fine tune their game and team captain Gary Sice will be available for selection for the final, while Tony Goggins should be back from injury. The management team should have options for team selection before they face either last year’s finalists Mountbellew/Moylough or 2007 champions Killererin in October.