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Extra time all the rage in county intermediate football championship

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Seamus Finnerty

EXTRA time was the order of the weekend in the intermediate football championship. At Tuam Stadium on Saturday, Ballinasloe and Oranmore-Maree was one of severel ties to end in stalemate. Ballinasloe got off a blistering start and led by six points to no score midway through the half with Paul Whelehan shooting their first three points while Darragh McCormack (two) and Keith Kelly were also on target.

Oranmore got off the mark with an Eoghan Stenson point followed by two from David Eignor as they trailed by 0-6 to 0-3 with two minutes to the break, but McCormack shot the last point of the half to give his side a four interval point lead.

The lead was cut to two points after five minutes of the second-half as Shane Stenson and Johnny Kelliher pointer for Oranmore but Whelehan extended Ballinasloe’s advantage before Eignor and McCormack exchanged white flags. The next three scores came from Oranmore as Shane Geoghegan, Eignor and Kelliher levelled matters at 0-9 each.

Whelehan pushed his side ahead again with nine minutes to go but sub Anton Mannering shot the first goal of the game to give Oranmore a 1-9 to 0-10 lead. Ballinasloe were not finished as McCormack pulled back one before Gary Canavan shot the levelling point to send the game into extra time.

In the first period, Ballinasloe shot three points from Kelly, Eoin McCormack and Darragh McCormack while Kelliher struck Oranmore-Maree’s only score when he shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.  Subsequently, it was all Ballinasloe as they scored 1-3 without reply to advance to the quarter-final on a final score of 1-18 to 1-10.

The second game in Corofin on Sunday between An Spideal and St Brendan’s followed the recurring trend of nail-biting thrillers over the weekend. Another to reach extra-time, this game wasn’t settled until Galway goalkeeper Maghnus Breathnach showed calmness to send over a free and win it for the men from the Gaeltacht.

An Spideal started on the back foot as the Ballygar side raced into an early 0-4 to 0-0 lead by the sixth minute. Francis Ferguson and Thomas Finneran gave St Brendan’s a healthy advantage before the hard working Fiontan O Cuanaigh raised the first white flag for An Spideal. Subsequetly, Breathnach got his first of the day and An Spideal were off and running.

Tomas O Conghaile then pointed before Shane Delaney set up Eric Walsh who rifled an unstoppable shot to the An Spideal net. Tomas O Fátharta then sent over a free and An Spideal went in 1-7 to1-6 ahead at the break after Sean O Curraoin and Brian O Conghaile did the spadework for Tomas O Conghaile to finish to the net.

The second-half was a sloppy affair and saw the tie end in stalemate. Enda Fitzpatrick raised another green flag for St. Brendan’s and though Tomas O Conghaile was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence, points from Tomas O Fatharta as well as a sublime effort from Breathnach forced extra time.

Breathnach started this period like a man possessed and three wonder scores later, An Spideal were leading on a scoreline of 1-14 to 2-9, Shane Delaney getting the St Brendan’s point in reply. Fiontan O Cuanaigh added to An Spideal’s tally before Conor Greally offloaded to the on-rushing Eric Wash who rattled the An Spideal net once more.

The teams were now level on a scoreline of 3-9 to 1-15 entering the second half of extra time and the game was there for the taking. Aodan O Curraoin found Cormac O Laoi who sent his team back into the lead and despite Pat Cunningham’s reply, it was left to the fantastic Breathnach to settle the tie with a pointed free in the final minute.

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

Connacht Tribune

Corofin hit the goal trail again in crushing Monivea/Abbey

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COROFIN 4-18
MONIVEA/ABBEY 0-7

WHILE it goes without saying that everyone is hugely thankful that sporting action has resumed and we still appear on course to complete a season, it is such a pity for the time being that only a handful of supporters are allowed the privilege to watch a team of Corofin’s class in full flight as they look destined to create history on their march to an eighth senior title in a row.
On a glorious day for football last Sunday, Corofin dismantled Monivea/Abbey in emphatic fashion, playing an electric brand of football that repeatedly cut holes in their opponent’s defensive alignment. Seven goals last time out against Oughterard, there could have been more again in Tuam Stadium but for some uncharacteristically sloppy finishing to rapier-like first half moves that left Brian Mulry’s side exposed.
It didn’t help that Cillian McDaid, Monivea/Abbey’s star turn, was an absentee, or that St. Bernard’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter final was scheduled for the same time, but Monivea/Abbey should still take a small shred of comfort from the fact that they competed well at times, created 19 scoring chances, and never dropped their heads despite the lost cause.
With no Connacht or All-Ireland club championship to have to try and peak for later in the year, Corofin look poised to lay down a serious marker on how far ahead of the pack they really are. New faces like Matthew Cooley and replacement Colin Kelly, who confidently netted two second-half goals on his debut, are being given their chance, while Ronan Steede, Martin Farragher, Bernard Power, and Daithí Burke were not required on this occasion.
Throw in the fact that Kevin O’Brien chose to keep Kieran Molloy and Gary Sice in reserve until deep into the second half and you start to seriously question whether any side in the county will be able to lay a glove on them this term. Ian Burke is motoring along nicely, Micheál Lundy appears revived back in a more attacking role, while veterans like Ciarán McGrath are haring around the pitch as if they have a point to prove.
Monivea/Abbey were lively all over the pitch early on and actually created one more scoring opportunity in the opening twelve minutes (5-4) but were unfortunately wasteful when it mattered and somehow found themselves trailing by 1-2 to 0-1.
Corofin’s movement and accuracy were already sublime, with Lundy, Burke, and Cooley lining up in an I formation down the middle of the attack and Darragh Silke offering himself as a highly effective link man in transition. Jason Leonard and Dylan Canney provided width when needed while the defensive Dylan’s, Wall and McHugh, tore forward when the chances arose.
Ian Burke’s sharp turn on eight minutes left Caelom Mulry in his wake, but when a goal looked likely Burke drove just over the bar. Three minutes later the dam broke when Lundy curled a pass into Cooley in space, and he picked out McHugh on the burst who slotted to the net at his ease.
A Brian Moran free registered Monivea/Abbey’s first score shortly after, but the die had already been cast. Jason Leonard drove over a ’45 after Burke had been denied by some last gasp defending before Canney clipped over a classy score where Lundy and Burke were involved again.

Extended report will appear in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway minor footballers stun Kerry in brilliant win

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NOT many minor teams would have coped with the adversity and setbacks which stalked Galway’s championship summer, or much less end up looking forward to an All-Ireland final appearance in over a fortnight’s time.

Donal Ó Fatharta’s latest batch of minor footballers have had their mettle well and truly tested over the past couple of months, notably when falling twice in the provincial title race and also having to overcome a numerical disadvantage in a key match against a quality Sligo outfit.

The fact that Galway came through all those difficulties to contest last Sunday’s absorbing All-Ireland semi-final was a tribute to the squad’s character and resolve. Quite simply, this is a group of players wearing maroon jerseys who don’t know when to give up.

Having comfortably dispensed with Leinster champions Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final – Galway teams at all levels seem to have the Indian sign over the Lilywhites – they had clearly parked a heartbreaking extra-time loss to Mayo in the Connacht decider. It meant they headed to GAA headquarters in good fettle and no doubts about their bottle.

In the opposition corner, however, was a Kerry team trying to maintain the county’s push for an unprecedented sixth consecutive All-Ireland minor title. The Kingdom were also unbeaten in 34 matches at this level and were strong favourites to carry the day.

But the Galway players were both undaunted and ready for the challenge. They rose to the occasion in magnificent style and, pretty soon, it was evident that this was going to be no walk in the park for the highly-rated Kerry boys.

Galway thrived in the open spaces of Croke Park in producing their most accomplished display of the campaign.

Read full match coverage in Tribune Sport.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin resume quest for seven-in-a-row

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DUBLIN’S footballers may be going for the five-in-a-row, but Jim Gavin’s all-conquering charges would struggle to hold a candle to the team which continues to dominate Galway club football.

Corofin have had the odd close shave – notably last year’s drawn county final against Mountbellew/Moylough – but their shadow continues to tower over the Galway championship.

Kevin O’Brien’s troops are on the trail of a seventh county title on the trot in 2019 – a feat which would equal the achievements of St Grellan’s, Ballinasloe (1913 to ‘19) and Tuam Stars (1954 to ’60).

Corofin will also be aiming to stay on track for a record-breaking third consecutive All-Ireland title when resuming their championship campaign with a clash against Annaghdown at Tuam Stadium on Friday evening (7.30pm).

There are nine senior group ties down for this decision this weekend – two go ahead on Friday evening, with the rest taking place on Saturday, scheduling influenced by the Galway minors’ All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry at Croke Park on Sunday.

See full match previews in this week’s Connacht Tribune Sport.

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