Monday 23 September 2019

Corofin forced to show their true grit by Ballintubber before retaining Connacht title

Corofin 2-10 Ballintubber 1-9

Michael Lundy of Corofin celebrates towards Gary Loftus of Ballintubber after scoring his side's first goal during the AIB Connacht GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Balintubber and Corofin at Elvery's MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Michael Lundy of Corofin celebrates towards Gary Loftus of Ballintubber after scoring his side's first goal during the AIB Connacht GAA Football Senior Club Championship Final match between Balintubber and Corofin at Elvery's MacHale Park in Castlebar, Mayo. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Corofin showed why they have been All-Ireland champions in two of the last four years with a composed second half performance in Castlebar to weather an early storm brewed up by Ballintubber and claim a third successive Connacht title.

It's the first time they have put three provincial titles together as they extended their haul to nine in total.

Kieran Molloy was superb for the winners, driving them even when they faced anxious moments in the opening quarter.

Their patience was a feature and, having rested Ian Burke because of injury, they made the most of his early second half introduction to take a firm grip on the game.

With his first touch the All-star had a goal and within minutes he had added a point as Corofin eased to the front, having trailed by three points at the break. 

Ballintubber enjoyed a better start, thanks chiefly to the dominance exerted by midfielders Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O'Connor.

But their long-range scoring was of a very high standard too with Cillian O'Connor (two), Alan Dillon and Gibbons all hitting the target to build a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 10th minute.

It became much more cagey game after that with Ballintubber regularly throwing everyone back in their own half to thwart Corofin and reduce scoring opportunities.

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Frustration was beginning to grow among the All-Ireland champions when Michael Farragher delivered a defence-splitting pass for Liam Silke to run on to and Silke transferred to Michael Lundy on 25 minutes. Lundy had work to do but managed to work an angle an unleash a shot to beat Ballintubber goalkeeper Brendan Walsh and give Corofin an unlikely lead.

But Ballintubber's response was swift and a goal from James Finnerty helped them to a 1-5 to 1-2 lead.

Within seven minutes however, that lead was wiped out and when a Bernard Power delivery over the top caught out Ballintubber, Gary Sice exploited the space on 39 minutes to tee up Burke.

It was all about control from that point on and with Molloy, Michael Farragher and Liam Silke so prominent, they didn't panic.

Scorers - Corofin: I Burke 1-1, G Sice 0-3 (3fs), M Lundy 1-0, J Leonard, L Silke, Michael Farragher, Martin Farragher, Colin Brady, K Molloy all 0-1 each.

Ballintubber: C O'Connor 0-4 (2fs), J Finnerty 1-0, A Dillon 0-2, M Plunkett, A Plunkett, J Gibbons all 0-1 each.

Corofin: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, Michael Farragher, D Wall; D Burke, R Steede; Ciaran Brady, J Leonard, Colin Brady; G Sice, M Lundy, Martin Farragher. Subs: D Silke for Ciaran Brady (28), I Burke for D Silke (37), D McHugh for C Silke (50), C Cunningham for Wall (56), D Canney for Colin Brady (58), B O'Donovan for D Burke (61)

Ballintubber: B Walsh; C Hallinan, G Loftus, R O'Connor; D Coleman, M Plunkett, B Murphy; J Gibbons, D O'Connor; C Galvin, A Plunkett, B Walsh; A Dillon, C O'Connor, J Finnerty. Subs: M Kelly for R O'Connor (47), P O'Connor for Gavin (52), J Geraghty for Plunkett (57)

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)

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