Sometimes in sport you have to put your hand up and say: “Today we were beaten by a better team.”
Sunday in Tuam Stadium was one of those days for current All-Ireland club champions Corofin who were well beaten, 2-10 to 0-11, by a hungrier and physically more powerful Castlebar Mitchels.
The men from Mayo’s county town have now won two of the last three Connacht club titles and are in a strong position to go on and win the club’s first All-Ireland title.
Well organised and powerful, they have learnt from their All-Ireland final defeat to St Vincent’s (Dublin ) two years ago, and they are an ambitious side which is vital to achieve All-Ireland success.
They were first to most balls last weekend and there were few positions that Corofin could say they were on top. Only young Martin Farragher, who had a terrific first half, and Ian Burke, offered any real consistent threat up front. However, the supply to them in the second half was atrocious.
Mitchels looked fresher and more eager, which is understandable since the bulk of the Corofin players had been on the go for three full seasons.
Barry Moran was magnificent for Castlebar
Big Barry Moran was superb for the victors and he was like a magnet for the ball around the middle, as well as scoring 1-2 from play. Corofin had no real answer to his aerial brilliance, but it was disappointing they did not change tactics and try to find some wing-backs or get some more diagonal runs from their midfielders. Posting county wing-back Liam Silke to corner back for a large part of the game, considering his support runs were badly needed out the field, defied any logic.
Corofin custodian Tom Healy should also look back on the video and use it as a learning opportunity as regards the need to vary kick-outs when a team is being routed by the opposition midfield.
The Castlebar half-back line of Paddy Durcan, Eoghan O’Reilly and Ray O’Malley also did a lot of damage and the Castlebar half-forward line really pushed up on the Corofin half-backs which was a key tactic in the game as it stopped Corofin creating play from those positions.
Game over with 10 minutes to play
Once Martin Farragher, who had been harshly booked in the first half, was sent off for a second yellow, the game was up for Stephen Rochford’s men. Neil Douglas had earlier scored a stunning goal and the last 10 minutes were just a matter of playing out the clock to present the cup to Rory Byrne, the Mitchels' captain.
Corofin: T Healy, A Burke, K Fitzgerald (0-1 ), C McGrath, C Cunningham, P Kelly, L Silke, G Higgins, R Steede (0-1 ); G Sice (0-3, 3fs ), D Wall (0-1 ), Michael Farragher (c ); Martin Farragher (0-4, 2fs ), M Lundy, I Burke (0-1 ). Subs for Corofin: D Burke for Higgins (34 ), K Molloy for McGrath (46 ), C Silke for Cunningham (46 ), J Leonard for Lundy (55, BC )