Corofin have won the Connacht club title five times since 1991, and they reached another Connacht club final last Sunday afternoon when they recovered from a disastrous start to narrowly defeat Mayo champion’s Ballintubber at MacHale Park, Castlebar.
The Galway senior champions missed far too many scoring opportunities in the second half and were again overly dependent on Alan O’Donovan for the majority of their scores. Similar to the county final against Tuam Stars, he was the only forward to score in the second 30 minutes, and shot 0-8 (7fs ), but he, too, missed a glorious chance to raise a green flag.
Corofin were in complete disarray for the opening 15 minutes as Anthony McGarry’s charges raced into a 1-4 to 0-1 early lead. However a second-quarter blitz that yielded 1-7 without reply wiped out Ballintubber’s early advantage, and set the tone for an afternoon of exciting and high quality championship football.
Despite going six points down, the Corofin players showed a lot of character and belief and hung on to win on a score-line of 1-11 to 2-07.
Gary Sice’s goal crucial to win
Corofin’s goal was crucial to their narrow victory and it was smoothly taken by Gary Sice, who also hit a good point in that purple spell.
His goal was set up by some pin-point passing from Michael Farragher and the experienced Gary Delaney, who picked out Sice with a fabulous 40 yard pass.
Young inter-county player of the year Cillian O’Connor did considerable damage at corner forward for Ballintubber and it was only when Corofin’s top man-marker Alan Burke was switched onto him that his influence was reined in a bit. O’Connor still ended with 2-3 (1f ) and was the most potent forward on display.
Despite being on the rack in the early stagesm the north Galway side came back from the abyss and used all their experience and quality to get back into contention.
Corofin were 1-8 to 1-4 to the good at the break, but they gave Ballintubber oxygen when they spurned two genuine goal opportunities and the Mayo champions came roaring back.
When Corofin finally going they had solid displays at the back from team captain Kieran Fitzgerald, Padriac Kelly, Michael Comer, and the composed Gary Delaney.
Young Daithí Burke and the experienced Greg Higgins improved at midfield as the game went on and, when they took control around the middle, they were critical to stopping the early rot.
Micheal Lundy also caught the eye with his work-rate and pace and he is an improving player, while Damien Burke used his power and ability to win hard ball to good effect.
Team manager Brian Silke believes his side must improve on Sunday week if they are to beat the current champions on Sunday week.
“We will need to up our performance to win the Connacht final. St Brigid’s had a good win (0-16 to 0-10 ) over Tourlestrane and they will be very difficult to beat in Kiltoom. They could have won the All-Ireland last year against Crossmaglen and they are a very experienced team. They have some very good players like Senan Kilbride, Frankie Dolan and Karol Mannion and we will need to work hard over the next two weeks to make sure we are in good shape to compete with them.
“We must be much sharper and more focused than we were last weekend. We had fantastic support in Castlebar and that was a factor in our win. We have 10 days to get ourselves right and hopefully we will have good support in Kiltoom too. It is great for the parish to have a Connacht final to look forward to and we will be doing our best to be well prepared for the game.”
Corofin: D Morris, K McGrath, K Fitzgerald (Cpt ), P Kelly, A Burke, G Delaney, M Comer, G Higgins, Daithí Burke, G Sice 1-1, Damien Burke, M Farragher, M Lundy 0-1, K Comer 0-1, A O’Donovan 0-8 (7fs ). Subs used: J Burke and A Donnellan
• The Connacht club final meeting with the Roscommon champions St Brigid’s is fixed for Sunday November 20 in Kiltoom.