Corofin in seventh heaven
Corofin 2-13 St Brigid's 0-5
Published 28/11/2016 | 02:30
After just 21 seconds and four lightening quick passes, Corofin's Michael Farragher put the ball over the St Brigid's bar.
And in the dying embers of the game, the same player broke through the cover again for what could have been a third goal. However, Mayo referee Jerome Henry granted St Brigid's mercy and blew the final whistle before the chance could develop.
Given what occurred in the intervening 60 minutes or so, it was both a fitting start and end to the game. Corofin delivered a performance that serves as a serious statement of intent.
St Brigid's were effectively never in this game. The Roscommon men had won when the sides met a decade ago and again in 2011 but there was to be no third win on the bounce. The Galway champions had taken care of business by half-time. After eight minutes they led by four points to no score.
The Corofin front six, thriving on some excellent service, moved at pace and angles that left the St Brigid's defenders clutching at air. Dylan Wall, Micheál Lundy and Farragher took turns in causing Frankie Dolan's side headaches, and when Corofin rattled in their first goal after 11 minutes, it already looked like a long way back for the Roscommon side.
Ian Burke's deft flick up to Liam Silke put him haring towards goal and he found Farragher who crashed to the net.
When the half-time whistle came Corofin held a 1-8 to 0-3 lead, with five of their six starting forwards on the scoresheet.
Brigid's hadn't helped themselves. Gary Sice should have goaled when Eoin Sheehy's poor pass out of defence was picked off. By half-time, they had kicked six wides. That number would extend to 13 before the day was out.
Brigid's joint-manager Dolan didn't look for excuses afterwards.
"We were well and truly beaten out the gate, it was probably over at half-time," admitted the former Roscommon star.
"We were flat going out there and the mistakes killed us, giving away ball after ball after ball, particularly in the first half and Corofin punished us. And our shooting was terrible. We missed chance after chance and against the likes of Corofin, if that happens you are going nowhere."
The second half offered little different. Corofin still put together moves of brilliant fluency and as Brigid's pushed further forward, they left bigger gaps at the back.
Their second goal came when Lundy, Wall and Sice combined to give Jason Leonard a sight on goal. His shot was low and beyond Shane Mannion to put Corofin 12 up.
From there it was just a matter of how ugly it would be. Brigid's finished the game with 14 men when Darren Dolan was sent off for a second yellow card, with their only consolation coming with their fifth and final point from Padraig Kelly - that score meant they wouldn't have the ignominy of posting the joint lowest total in a Connacht SFC club final.
"We knew all about them and how good they were," Dolan reflected. "We gave them too much space, we stood off them, they could do what they wanted.
"They bossed us and bullied us around the field which is disappointing. Probably the only one that really stood up was Darragh Donnelly and Darragh Sheehy but after that we were shocking poor all over the field. You'll have days like that and it's a disappointment but that's life.
"They are very good, very physical and they move the ball well but I keep going back to it: if you let good players play and give them space. . . we gave them so much space they could do what they want.
"And if they gave us that space we'd look good, so it is disappointing. But it is going to take a right good team to beat Corofin this year. They are playing the Munster champions so I wish them well and I hope they go on for Connacht and win the All-Ireland."
After watching his side pick up a seventh Connacht title that put them level with Roscommon's Clann na nGael in the province's roll of honour, a delighted Corofin manager Kevin O'Brien said that their extra-time win over Castlebar Mitchels helped them get out of the starting blocks.
"The Castlebar game stood to us," he said. "We were at a different level. A lot of guys picked up knocks in that game and hadn't trained but I was happy that our preparation was good and we started off well.
"The first 20 minutes we did well and Mike Farragher's goal was crucial and it was a reflection of our dominance. So I'm delighted."
"When we watch the video we will reflect on that but we are on to another level now and that performance probably wouldn't be good enough in a semi-final.
"I am very fortunate with the group I have. They are all pushing to make the first 15 and I don't think anyone will rest on their laurels. But it is important to take time out and enjoy this, particularly for the younger players. It is their first Connacht title."
O'Brien and Corofin now have to turn their attentions to February's date with Munster champions Dr Crokes and the manager admits to being unsure as to how to handle that break.
"I just think we need to reflect when that is on and take some time out next week to see how we prepare for that," he said.
"I am lucky to have people around me - dieticians and physios and that - who know how to prepare for that and we will talk with those guys about how that works. But to be honest we didn't look past half past three today."
Scorers - Corofin: J Leonard 1-3 (0-2fs), M Farragher 1-2, G Sice 0-4 (1f), D Burke, I Burke, M Lundy, D Wall 0-1 each. St Brigid's: E Sheehy, K Mannion (2fs) 0-2 each, P Kelly 0-1.
Corofin - B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, C McGrath, C Cunnningham; D Burke, R Steede; G Sice, D Wall, J Leonard; I Burke, M Farragher, M Lundy. Subs: B O'Donovan for Molloy (45), A Burke for Cunningham (51), D Canney for Leonard (55), K Murphy for Wall, G Higgins for L Silke (56), J Canney for I Burke (58).
St Brigid's - S Mannion; N McInerney, D Donnelly, D Sheehy; P Kelly, N Grehan, R Stack; M Daly, G Dolan; E Sheehy, D Dolan, B Stack; C Murray, S Kilbride, K Mannion. Subs: C McHugh for Murray (ht), D Cunniffe for Daly (40), A Gleeson for G Dolan, J Murray for Grehan (both 56).
Ref - J Henry (Mayo).