Corofin’s title gallop runs badly aground in semi-final

Corofin substitute Greg Higgins secures possession ahead of Dr. Crokes' Johnny Buckley during Saturday's All-Ireland Club football semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Photo: Enda Noone.
Corofin substitute Greg Higgins secures possession ahead of Dr. Crokes' Johnny Buckley during Saturday's All-Ireland Club football semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick. Photo: Enda Noone.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IT’S not something this Corofin team are used to. . . running around in their opponents’ slipstream and chasing shadows. The final two minutes of action before half time in Saturday’s All-Ireland club football semi-final underlined the Galway champions’ plight as Dr Crokes played keep ball in stringing 34 passes together. They were the ones dictating.

Like St Thomas’ hurlers the week before, Corofin were slow out of the blocks, leaving them unsuccessfully playing catch up for the hour. They were four points to one down after 13 minutes as the physically stronger Kerry outfit caught fire from the throw in, with former county player Kieran O’Leary repeatedly torching the strong pre-match favourites.

It might be unfair to suggest that Corofin were caught napping by Dr Crokes’ intensity and ambition early on, but they struggled to establish any fluency and were clearly knocked off their stride. In trouble around midfield where they lost their first five kick-ours, under pressure in defence and with their attack getting little supply, the opening quarter wasn’t going to plan for Kevin O’Brien’s charges.

Corofin would have left little to chance in their preparations for Saturday’s big collision at the Gaelic Grounds, but Colm Copper and company represented a steep rise in class compared to the quality of opposition they encountered in both Galway and the province last year. Dr Crokes were also more driven and once they had established that early foothold, they also possessed the experience and footballing craft to close the deal.

Some of the accuracy of their angled kick-passing would have done justice to inter-county level and took Corofin out of their comfort zone. With O’Leary the regular target, Dr Crokes’ game plan worked a treat with the razor-sharp former All-Ireland winner lofting over five points from play in the opening half to lay the foundation for an unexpected clear-cut win. Corofin are not used to being carved open like that and we are not used to seeing it happen.

With Michael Farragher forced to move out the field in an attempt to stop the rot, Corofin had managed to close the gap to 0-5 to 0-4 by the 24th minute thanks to scores from Justin Leonard, Gary Sice and Farragher, but they were rocked subsequently when Gavin O’Shea’s point effort caught out unsuspecting goalkeeper Bernard Power and dipped into the net to leave the Galway title holders trailing by 1-7 to 0-5 at the interval.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.