The top two clubs in Galway minor football over the past five years, St James and Corofin – they have won the last five A titles between them – clashed in Pearse Stadium on Sunday in this year’s county final. On this occasion it was Ollie Burke’s Corofin outfit that collected the booty.
His side won by a single point, but it should have been more.
They dominated the third quarter, laying siege on Cillian Murpy’s goal, and yet they could not add to their half-time advantage of two points (0-7 to 0-5 ), kicking five dreadful wides before James scored a point on the counter-attack to punish Corofin’s largesse in front of goal.
The game went down to the wire and had a fabulous goal effort from St James’s wing-forward Sean Glynn in the closing minutes hit the back of the net instead of cannoning off the crossbar, it would have been Terry O’Regan’s young men dancing a jig of joy.
Corofin’s carelessness in front of goal in that third quarter almost cost them the title.
To the vanquished first. St James have a few fine players on their side, none more so than Aaron Connolly at midfield, who shot three splendid points from play over the hour and was dominant in the aerial duels.
Based on the standard of his performance last weekend, he should have been given some championship game time during the year in the county jersey too.
He was dominant for long periods and it was his industry and graft that kept his side in touch at key stages. He also scored their first, third and sixth points.
Team captain Adam Lee also made some impressive sallies into the Corofin defence, but too many times the ball was not retained and few scores came off his enterprise. Eoghan O’Regan at centre forward also caught the eye and his use of possession deserves mention. He kicked three points (2fs ) and was involved in most of James’ best moves.
Corofin, however, were just that little bit better around the field and the spine of their team did very well.
Tomas Healy varied his booming kick-outs and made a crucial save before half-time to deny Liam Finnerty. Big Conor Keady was immense at full-back for Corofin and his powerful physical presence made it hard for the St James’ attack. He executed one magnificent tackle near the stand when he reached his hand in and dispossessed his opponent with a text-book rob. From that turnover Corofin scored a point. It was a big moment in the game.
Centre-back Conor Cunningham, who is only 16, was brave and composed in possession, while wing-back and captain Oisín Mannion had a good game and knocked over a tremendous individual score in the first half. Daithí Burke worked hard at midfield and got on a lot of ball.
Up front Eoin Glynn kicked three high-quality points from play from centre-forward and the team’s other chief scorer, Seán Silke, added two from play and Corofin’s final score from a free.
The manager’s son Ian Burke was always dangerous in possession and his ability to bring his team-mates into play with deft hands was one of the highlights of the game, as was his superb point off his right foot that gave his team a two-point advantage going into the last few minutes.
Conor McNamara at corner forward had a productive hour too and also got on the score-sheet with a good point.
There was little between the sides and St James will feel they could have performed to a higher standard and used possession better.
The club is doing some wonderful work in the east side of the city promoting GAA as evidenced by the fact that they have won three of the last five county minor titles and have a good chance of going senior this year too, if they beat An Spidéal in two weeks’ time.
Corofin supporters will hope last Sunday was the first half of a double for the club this year, but near neighbours Killererin will have something to say about that.