County final day and all the baggage that comes with it. Corofin just know how to deal with the heavy load. It is why their recent history is laced with success and silverware. If Corofin want to win a county title they usually do regardless of the competitors’ list.
Cortoon Shamrocks, enjoying a seriously productive year, filed into Pearse Stadium armed with quiet expectation and a drop of optimism too. Victories over Annaghdown, Killererin, Salthill-Knocknacarra, and NUIG have that kind of an effect on any team, but jumping in the ring with Corofin is always a step up in class.
Ultimately the reason Corofin are serial conquerors is that they are organised, methodical, and lust trophies. From an early age these footballers were taught the fundamentals of the game and the importance of retaining possession and driving forward at speed. The training drills are innovative and the order of the club brings sustained glory. There is always the guarantee of another day out, and while harrowing defeats have occurred, Corofin move on unperturbed. This match simply confirmed Corofin’s decisiveness.
Cortoon Shamrocks were as gritty as expected, but Corofin survived, eking out a lead after the restart before protecting it with trademark care. Corofin’s will brought a 12th title and that was enough to leave them satisfied on the trip back home on the N17. Thoughts have already switched to the Connacht championship and Corofin will be plotting a lengthy provincial run.
That the Galway decider was a grim grind will scarcely bother Corofin, who came into town with the task being to triumph. It was exactly what they did and for that reason alone Jimmy Sice will be satisfied.
Being the perfectionists that they are Corofin will be aware that there is scope for improvement too. Remaining in contention is what matters and Corofin expertly absorbed Cortoon’s jabs.
The opening quarter was fractured as neither outfit could attain superiority at centrefield. Cortoon were flooding bodies into the middle, withdrawing Pat Gilmore in an effort to leave prairies of space inside for Michael Martin.
Still the difficulty was that Cortoon weren’t able to seriously threaten Corofin early on, but Martin was kicking the frees confidently. Derek Savage nailed one from play after Alan O’Donovan had handed Corofin a first minute lead, but the favourites were struggling to attain their usual rhythm.
Greg Higgins was seeking involvement, but dragged two scoreable efforts wide as the error count mounted. This appeared to suit Cortoon, who must have been glad to watch Corofin’s wide tally increase to five as the interval approached. O’Donovan clipped a free in first half stoppage time before Gary Sice restored parity again with a splendid effort from an acute angle under the stand. When referee Gerry Kinneavy eventually blasted the whistle for the break, appropriately the sides were level.
So, having posed questions of Corofin’s resolve, how would Cortoon manage in the third quarter? Again there was a significant emphasis placed on working diligently and when the ball was transferred into David Warde he split the uprights with a tidy stroke.
Higgins was carrying the Corofin fight, shipping the tackles and funnelling possession forward and from one of the midfielder’s breaks Michael Comer landed the next equaliser.
That was a soothing score for Corofin, who added two more critical points from substitute David Hanley and Joe Canney as they edged ahead. Considering the tight and tense nature of the combat it was about spirit rather than skill or subtlety.
The dying embers were mildly interesting as Cortoon desired a goal, but they failed to threaten Bernard Power’s net as Corofin’s defence, studded with inter-county exponents, closed every avenue. At the opposite end O’Donovan and Canney were able to pilfer critical points late on as Corofin returned to the environment in which they are most comfortable, perched proudly on the summit of Galway football with the Frank Fox Cup for company.
Corofin: B Power; G Delaney, K Fitzgerald, K McGrath; M Comer (0-1 ), D Burke, T Goggins; G Higgins, A Donnellan; G Sice (0-1, f ), J Canney (0-2 ), A Burke; S Monaghan, K Comer, A O’Donovan (0-3, 1f ). Subs: D Hanley (0-1 ) for Monaghan (13 mins ), T Burke for K Comer (20 mins ), J Killeen for Donnellan (57 mins ).
Cortoon Shamrocks: A Ansboro; D O’Neill, D Finnegan, B Roche; D Gilmore, B Gilmore, J Martin; F Heverin, S Gilmore; D Savage (0-1 ), M Costello, N Connolly; D Warde (0-1 ), M Martin (0-3, 3fs ), P Gilmore. Subs: A Tierney for Warde (43 mins ), G Geoghegan for Connolly (50 mins ), B Walshe for S Gilmore (59 mins ).
Referee: G Kinneavy.