Salthill/Knocknacarra are Galway senior football champions no more after surrendering their crown to a vastly superior Corofin outfit at Tuam Stadium on Sunday.
The city men were never at the races and looked a shadow of team that claimed the title 12 months ago. The final scoreline of Corofin 2-13 to 0-7 says it all and the winners were every bit as convincing as the 12 point victory margin suggests.
Nobody took any deal of pleasure in seeing Salthill/Knocknacarra buckle so easily, and the neutrals in the crowd of about 4,500 were heading for the gates early in what was one of the most lopsided county finals in recent years.
Corofin’s rapid pace combined with a ruthless streak early on simply blew away Salthill/Knocknacarra. Before they caught breath, the title holders found themselves 1-7 to 0-2 behind after just 18 minutes.
Corofin wing-forward Gary Sice, the best player on show, was on fire in that opening blitz of Salthill/Knocknacarra. The Galway star was twice fouled for a penalty, the first was sent wide by Gary Delaney; the second, a real killer blow, was slotted home by Kieran Comer.
Corner-forward Joe Canney was causing all sorts of bother, too, laying-off to wing half-backs and midfielders driving forward.
Salthill/Knocknacarra had no answer to Corofin’s relentless running style of play, pouring forward in wave after wave of attack with Ronan Steede, Greg Higgins, Kieran Comer and Mike Farragher all prominent as well.
When substitutes Derek O’Flaherty and Conor Treacy were introduced they both helped to shore up the Salthill/Knocknacarra defence that was under sustained bombardment; but they offered only temporary respite.
For the last 12 minutes of the half, Salthill/Knocknacarra were in the ascendancy as John Boylan, Finian Hanley, David Tierney and Seán Armstrong put in resistance – they held Corofin scoreless and narrowed the gap to 1-7 to 0-5 at the break but they needed to have converted a couple of the wides they shot in that period to pile on the pressure.
Corofin aren’t known for relinquishing leads but if they were to get caught by a comeback, Salthill/Knocknacarra needed to draw first blood after the interval. They didn’t. Instead Corofin landed 1-1 inside two minutes after resuming play with Gary Sice, prominent in both scores, setting up midfielder Ronan Steede for a point and finishing to the net, a fine move involving Mike Farragher. Game over.
That left it 2-8 to 0-5, and the remainder of the half, all 28 minutes of it, was immaterial. Corofin kept Salthill/Knocknacarra scoreless for over 20 minutes of the rest of the half while keeping their own score ticking over to run out emphatic victors after a dominant display.
Corofin now have a few weeks’ break before they face the Mayo champions in the Connacht club championship at Tuam Stadium on Sunday, November 10.
In the earlier final, Moycullen bridged a gap of 40 years to secure the minor A title beating Claregalway in an entertaining curtain-raiser. The final score was Moycullen 2-6 Claregalway 1-6.
Read Frank Farragher’s match report in this week’s Connacht Sentinel.
Champions Moycullen on guard after club football draw
CHAMPIONS Moycullen will open the defence of their title against an emerging Claregalway outfit when the sides meet in the first round of the 2021 county senior football championship on the weekend of September 5th.
In addition to Claregalway, Moycullen have also been pooled with An Cheathrú Rua and Annaghdown and, while Don Connellan’s charges will be favourites heading into all three SFC fixtures, the former Roscommon footballer will be acutely aware that each of their Group 3 opponents have the capacity to spring a surprise.
Indeed, this proved to be Moycullen’s forte in 2020 as they claimed the Frank Fox Cup for the very first time. It was even more impressive given they did so without Galway star Peter Cooke, who was working in the United States last year. Cooke has since returned and his availability significantly boasts their chances of retaining their title.
From the outset in 2020, though, Moycullen looked like men on a mission. In their group games, they saw off Micheál Breathnach (3-12 to 1-6), Annaghdown (4-9 to 2-14) and Mountbellew/Moylough (4-14 to 1-9) before accounting for St. James’ (1-17 to 2-9) and 2019 finalists Tuam Stars (3-14 to 1-15) in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively.
The two biggest threats to Moycullen’s crown are Corofin – still the reigning All-Ireland club champions – and Mountbellew/Moylough while Tuam Stars and Salthill/Knocknacarra will also fancy their chances.
Corofin, unbeaten for almost eight years in Galway SFC football until their demise last year, have been drawn in Group 4A, alongside Oughterard and Salthill/Knocknacarra. However, those three teams will not play each other, but rather they cross-play the teams pooled in Group 4B, namely Monivea/Abbey, Barna and Caherlistrane.
This unusual format gives each of these teams three SFC fixtures – same as the four-team groups – with the top two sides in each of these sections – 4A and 4B – advancing to the knockout stages.
See full coverage of the draw in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Galway let 11-point slip in a thrilling minor battle
IT would be a tad simplistic to dub what was a hugely entertaining Connacht minor football semi-final as a game of two halves, given that Galway led by 11 points at one stage before Roscommon stormed back to eventually claim a remarkable victory at Tuam Stadium last Saturday.
The reality is a little more nuanced, in that Galway, on their first outing of the year, impressively carved Roscommon’s defence apart with an array of stylish attacking play for a 20-minute spell while playing with the wind at their backs. Outside of that period, though, Galway would just manage to register a solitary point from play.
Roscommon also let four decent goal chances slip through their fingers before they eventually did raise a green flag, drawing two saves while also hitting the post. Critically they hit the last three points of the half to leave a slightly more manageable eight between the sides.
During Galway’s purple patch, pacy corner forwards Eanna Monaghan and Niall Mannion both left their markers chasing shadows, as Galway reeled off nine scores without reply having understandably started quite sluggishly. Goals by Sean Bermingham and Monaghan looked to have Alan Flynn’s side in the box seat, but Roscommon showed remarkable character to claw their way back despite a second half black card that threatened to stall their comeback.
However, when Robert Heneghan’s thunderous 47th minute shot hit the roof of the net while Roscommon were still a body short, the large travelling support rose the decibel levels another notch and their team responded magnificently.
Read full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Corofin hit the goal trail again in crushing Monivea/Abbey
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.