Reigning county champions Corofin will play Moycullen this weekend in the quarter-final of the county championship after keeping their ‘drive for five’ alive when overcoming last year's finalists, Salthill/Knocknacarra by 1-18 to 2-12.
On a wet and windy day in Tuam Stadium, Kevin O'Brien’s squad was full value for the nine-point lead with 10 minutes remaining before a late surge from Salthill gave them 1-4 without reply to provide an exciting finish to what was otherwise a poor second half.
After Roberty Finnerty's opening point, Corofin went 1-1 ahead, capitalising on a kick-out mix-up and Colin Brady grabbed a goal to continue his fine form in this year’s championship.
Finnerty’s free-taking kept the city side in the game on a day where veteran Kieran Fitzgerald showed his class yet again, marking Seán Armstrong.
The 2001 All-Star kept the current county man scoreless from play in an impressive defensive display.
Finnerty and county minor Evan Murphy showed that Salthill will have plenty to say in future championships with Finnerty scoring 1-7 and Murphy getting 1-1.
Young Ciarán Brady deputised superbly for All-Ireland hurling winning star Daithí Burke in midfield, winning more than his fair share of ball and starting numerous attacks to keep Corofin on the front foot for most of this game.
Corofin finished the day with eight different scorers, while Salthill depended too much on Finnerty.
After a shaky start for Salthill’s defence, Evan Wynne turned in a fine performance, curtailing Ian Burke's influence especially in the second half. Burke was the central point in Corofin’s attack - winning ball in front and laying it off quickly.
His speed of thought, creativity and execution of passing was impressive given the conditions. An Evan Murphy penalty kept Salthill in this game when Corofin looked to be pulling away, and it left the score at half time 1-11 to 1-7 to the eventual winners.
Colin Brady had a fantastic opportunity to put his team even further ahead at the start of the second half but fluffed his goal chance giving Salthill some hope.
The North Board men pulled away and Salthill seemed to be really struggling after only scoring one point in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, when Finnerty finished well to bring the difference back to six.
Armstrong finally got on the score sheet with a ’45 either side of a fine Andrew Butler score before yet another Finnerty score going into injury time left it with two between the sides. Corofin were rocking a bit - however, they broke the seasider's revival when a long free from the Salthill keeper eventually broke to Dylan McHugh and Corofin broke forward before Liam Silke got his second point of the game to give the North board side a 3 point cushion just before referee Martin Flaherty blew his full time whistle.
The experience of Corofin’s older players helped to see them through this tie and should help the younger players who have broken into the team in the rest of the Galway championship.