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.
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.
Galway minor footballers stun Kerry in brilliant win
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.
Corofin resume quest for seven-in-a-row
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.