Storming Salthill finish leaves rattled champions clinging on

Corofin’s Gary Sice gives chase to Salthill-Knocknacarra’s Conor Halloran during Saturday's senior football championship preliminary quarter-fina at Tuam Stadium. Photos: Enda Noone.
Corofin’s Gary Sice gives chase to Salthill-Knocknacarra’s Conor Halloran during Saturday's senior football championship preliminary quarter-fina at Tuam Stadium. Photos: Enda Noone.

Corofin 1-18

Salthill/Knocknacarra 2-12

FROM a seemingly unassailable position, nine points ahead with just ten minutes to play, Corofin were amazingly hanging on and under siege in the final minute of injury time on Saturday evening. Robert Finnerty’s goal had sparked Salthill-Knocknacarra to life in the wintry environs of Tuam Stadium, but they couldn’t conjure up another to force extra time or even win this preliminary quarter-final.

In a final desperate throw of the dice, Salthill/Knocknacarra ’keeper Evan Duffy was called up to midfield to lob a free into the danger zone, with all of the twenty-eight outfield players between him and the Corofin goal. The county champions, though, won the tussle for possession and broke at pace into the bizarrely open field, with Liam Silke adding a point to finally seal their spot in the last eight.

It may be true that Corofin turned off the afterburners and switched to cruise control mode when they were so far in front, but they rarely, if ever, concede 1-3 in the space of five minutes without reply. This led to panic stations as Salthill/Knocknacarra drove ball after ball in deep and sensed a chance to gain revenge for their county final defeat last year.

It would prove to be too little, too late for Val Daly’s outfit, who will regret the costly concession of a first half goal that came directly from a misplaced short kick-out, while their sluggish start to the second half, when they had turned to play with the wind and into the Town End, saw them lose the third quarter by five points to one.

In a free-flowing, open contest that was a credit to both sides given the conditions, Corofin had brilliantly registered 1-16 on the scoreboard by the 42nd minute, while Salthill/ Knocknacarra themselves were highly efficient with their shooting and did not kick a wide until the 46th minute. They struggled to contain Corofin’s vast array of shooting options, though, and Kevin O’Brien’s side had eight different contributors in the first half.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.