Classy Corofin claim fifth win on spin in feisty affair
Corofin 2-14 M-moylough 0-10
Corofin manager Kevin O'Brien said Galway's latest five-in-a-row winners enjoyed proving their doubters wrong as they overcame Mountbellew-Moylough with a storming second-half display at Tuam Stadium.
Claiming a handful of Galway football titles for the first time in their history is a significant achievement for Corofin, who lost in last year's All-Ireland semi-final to Dr Crokes, but this win was far from definite at half-time.
The sending off of Cathal Silke in first half added-time was a setback for Corofin, the 2/5 favourites, who led by 0-8 to 0-4 at half-time, but Mountbellew-Moylough could not make numerical advantage count and Conor Cunningham and Martin Farragher's goals in the 37th and 39th minutes wrapped up the win.
"It was really sweet. We were written off coming into this final which is very unusual for Corofin. People said this team was finished but a lot of them stood up today when the questions were asked, especially when we went down to 14 men," said O'Brien.
"There is great character in the Corofin dressing-room. We are a very tight group. And after Cathal got sent off the lads really responded. The game opened up after half-time. And not only do you have to win these games, you have to come out and win it and that takes a bit of effort."
From the start there was plenty of needle in this game. Before the ball was thrown in a fight broke out as both teams sought to lay down a marker, but right through the 60 minutes referee Muiris Mac Gearailt had his hands full to keep the peace.
The bright start that Corofin managed was crucial though, and Ronan Steede and Michael Farragher points and a couple of frees from Jason Leonard saw them into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after eight minutes.
At the other end Barry McHugh was Mountbellew-Moylough's danger man and he kicked a couple of quick points in reply, but Steede, Leonard and Dylan Wall added good scores to help their side into a 0-8 to 0-4 half-time lead.
Silke's sending off was fully deserved as he kicked out at Barry McHugh in front of the referee, but instead of pushing hard at the start of the half, Mountbellew-Moylough fell back in their shells, which allowed Corofin to tag on two quick frees.
The key score came in the 37th minute when Leonard's hand-pass over the top sent Cunningham in on goal and he finished smartly past Brian Donnellan.
Joe Bergin tagged on a point for Mountbellew-Moylough, but moments later Martin Farragher hit Corofin's second goal to take the steam out of Mountbellew-Moylough's challenge.
Bergin then became the second player to see red when he clashed with Sice, but their hopes of ending a 31-year wait for a county crown was long gone at that point.
"We were well in the game at half-time and we always knew with Corofin's experience and our inexperience that they were really going to come at us in the first 15 minutes and we weathered it," said Mountbellew-Moylough manager Michael Donnellan.
"We were still in touch at half-time, with a man advantage and the wind to come.
"We had to kick on and have a real good crack at it but you are talking about one of the best teams in the country, and they came out and hit 2-2 after half-time. It's a disappointing way to finish up."
Scorers - Corofin: J Leonard 0-6 (4f), Martin Farragher 1-1, C Cunningham 1-0, G Sice 0-2 (f), R Steede 0-2, Michael Farragher 0-1, D Wall 0-1, I Burke 0-1. Mountbellew-Molough: B McHugh 0-6 (4f), P Donnellan 0-2, J Bergin 0-1, E Finnerty 0-1.
Corofin - B Power; C McGrath, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; D Wall, K Molloy, L Silke; Michael Farragher, R Steede; C Cunningham, J Leonard, G Sice; Martin Farragher, I Burke, M Lundy. Subs: D McHugh for Cunningham (41), D Burke for Molloy (47), J Burke for L Silke (50), C Brady for McGrath (57), B O'Donovan for Wall (62), K Murphy for Leonard (63).
Mountbellew-Moylough - B Donnellan; A McHugh, S Moran, M Mannion; C Kenny, J Daly, C Murray; E Finnerty, J Bergin; S Boyle, M Daly, P Donnellan; C Mannion, B McHugh, N McDonagh. Subs: G Donaghue for S Boyle (34), M Barrett for McDonagh (41), A Sweeney for J Daly (52), C Duffy for Murray (62), J Meehan for C Mannion (62).
Ref - Muiris Mac Gearailt (Micheal Breathnach).