Tubber look to topple the kingpins of Connacht

GAA: Connacht Club SFC Semi-Final

My ball: Diarmuid O'Connor and Daithi Burke of Corofin contest for the ball in last years Connacht Final meeting between Ballintubber and Corofin. Photo: Sportsfile

My ball: Diarmuid O'Connor and Daithi Burke of Corofin contest for the ball in last years Connacht Final meeting between Ballintubber and Corofin. Photo: Sportsfile

The next stop off on the Ballintubber football tour of 2019 will be in Tuam Stadium on Sunday.

The west Mayo men will make the short 30-mile trip across south Mayo and through north Galway on Sunday to take on the biggest challenge they have faced to date this season.

Winning the Mayo Senior Football Championship for the fifth time in ten seasons is an amazing achievement - but the one thing that will have disappointed the Abbeysiders in that run, is that they have not been able to add a provincial crown to go with their success on the home front.

Standing in their way of making it back to the Connacht final for a second year in a row is the big beast of the club game in the province - Corofin - who have won the Shane McGettigan cup more than any other team - claiming the title nine times - all of them in the last 28-years.

They also go into Sunday's clash having won the last three championships - and three All Ireland titles since 2015, marking them out as the dominant force in club game not only locally but nationally in recent years. They have also won the last seven Galway championships on the bounce

Last Sunday saw both sides in action with Ballintubber disposing of the stern challenge of Glencar-Manorhamilton in the Connacht quarter final in Castlebar, while in Sunday's venue Corofin won their 21st Galway title after a replay against Tuam Stars.

For Ballintubber, getting over the potential banana skin that the Leitrim champions posed was the most important thing and they did that in an efficient if not enthralling style. They did so also without the services of Cillian O'Connor who was absent from action for Kevin Johnson's men - who also lost Noel Geraghty to a nasty-looking injury just before half-time in their five point win.

Ballintubber will need O'Connor back in harness if they are to get one over on the big guns from north Galway who can be normally counted on to time their run from the latter stages of the Galway championship right through the Connacht and further rounds expertly.

The sides met in last year's provincial decider in MacHale Park, where a second half blitz from Corofin saw them run out four point winners on a score of 2-10 to 1-9 - thanks to a second half surge that saw them reel in a three-point break and outscore Ballintubber 1-8 to 0-4 in the second half of that meeting - with Ian Burke playing an instrumental role scoring 1-1 after coming off the bench with 37 minutes gone.

Ballintubber's touch-tight tenacious defence had done an excellent job in shutting down the expressive Corofin attack in the early exchanges of that game, with Micheál Lundy's goal 25 minutes in opening up the game and the Galway men were able to use their greater experience to drive on to victory.

Corofin were pushed to the wall again in their replay victory over Tuam Stars last Sunday and trailed 0-7 to 0-6 after 41 minutes, but when the pressure came on they showed why they are champions, reeling off the next five points to push themselves into a commanding lead down the home straight.

The Galway men are full to the brim with experience and quality with the likes of Liam Silke, Michael Lundy, Jason Leonard, Ian Burke, Gary Sice, Daithi Burke and Martin Farragher all old hands at putting in big showings in games at the business end of the club season.

Ballintubber won't be fazed by the the challenge in front of them, they know how to get themselves in a position to win games and see out tight contests. They will need the accuracy of Cillian O'Connor back in harness - but the likes of Ciaran Gavin - who continues his progress - and Stephen O'Malley - all know how to hit the target - while Alan Plunkett once again put in another big showing in their opening round of the Connacht championship, hitting the all-important goal that pushed them clear of the Glencar Manorhamilton challenge last Sunday.

In the middle of the park Jason Gibbons showed again how key he is to their progress with another big showing in the middle of the park in that win, while Diarmuid O'Connor can light up any game at any stage, while the craft and cuteness of veteran attacker, Alan Dillon, will be key to any success Ballintubber will have on Sunday. The game throws in at 2pm and will finish on the day if the teams end up level after normal time and extra time.

 

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