Corofin blow off 'cobwebs' with first-half goal blitz
Corofin 3-8 Fulham Irish 1-4
Kevin O'Brien hailed Corofin's fighting spirit as they came from behind to beat Fulham Irish at a sodden McGovern Park.
The Londoners threatened an upset in the last-ever All-Ireland quarter-final when they scored an unanswered 1-1 in the opening four minutes, but Corofin hit back with three first-half goals to put them on course for a semi-final date with Moorefield on February 17.
"The response was impressive," said O'Brien. "The goal was sloppy from our point of view but the lads recovered well and we went in six points up at half-time.
"I suppose we were lucky to concede the goal early - you get time to respond."
Corofin goalkeeper Bernard Power was at fault for Fulham's goal, his scuffed clearance going straight to full-forward Marty Hughes, who nonchalantly lobbed the ball back over his head.
But the back-to-back Connacht champions didn't trail for long. They were awarded a penalty on nine minutes, which was converted by Liam Silke, and moments later Kieran Molloy unselfishly teed up Colin Brady for his second goal in as many games.
Despite having not played a competitive game in three months, Fulham trailed by just three points as the first half neared a close but that deficit was doubled in the last minute when Ian Burke netted after a lightening counter-attack.
Corofin led 3-3 to 1-3 at the break but the scores dried up as conditions worsened, and Power redeemed himself with a wonder-save to deny Hughes.
However, Fulham tired in the closing stages and that allowed Corofin to kick four points in the final 10 minutes to put some gloss on the scoreline.
"Job done, we're delighted to get out of here," said O'Brien. "The conditions again… the pitch was in excellent shape but it was slippery on top.
"There were a lot of cobwebs out there from not having played since the Connacht final six weeks ago. Hopefully the game will bring us on a bit, but we' have a lot of work to do."
From next season the London champions will enter the Connacht Championship, and Fulham boss Greg McCartan believes it will give them a greater chance of causing an upset.
"It means that whoever comes through London doesn't have to stand around and wait for eight weeks," said the Down legend.
"It just doesn't suit, and it's hard to keep guys interested when there are no games at the end of the week.
"Hats off to the lads, though. They've been going for almost a year now and it's been a great year. We've enjoyed it and got our championship win.
"Now we're going to try and retain it. We'll take a three or four-week break, and our focus will be on to win every game next season."
Scorers - Corofin: C Brady 1-1; I Burke 1-0; L Silke 1-0 (pen); J Leonard 0-2 (1f); G Sice (f), Michael Farragher, R Steede, C Silke, Martin Farragher 0-1 each. Fulham Irish: M Hughes 1-0; O Mulligan 0-2 (2fs); M Murphy, L Staunton (f) 0-1 each.
Corofin - B Power; L Silke, K Fitzgerald, K Murphy; K Molloy, C Silke, D Wall; M Farragher, R Steede; G Sice, M Lundy, J Leonard; I Burke, M Farragher, C Brady. Subs: C Cunningham for Murphy (16), B O'Donovan for Molloy (44, BC), D Silke for Brady (50), D Canney for Leonard (55).
Fulham Irish - J Tavey; R Morgan, C Hyde, C Murphy; J Gilfedder, H Dockry, A Savage; M Murphy, D O'Connor; L Turley, O Mulligan, A McArdle; S Quinn, M Hughes, B Martin. Subs: D Comer for Molloy (20), I Nolan for Savage (44), L Staunton for Turley (44), P Friel for Martin (49), P McGirr for Quinn (59), A Kelleher for O'Connor (60).
Ref - N Mooney (Cavan)