Corofin on course for All-Ireland three in-a-row as first-minute goal helps sink Nemo Rangers
Corofin 1-10 Nemo Rangers 0-7
Corofin remain firmly on course for a record third consecutive All-Ireland club title after comfortably disposing of Munster champions Nemo Rangers in Ennis.
The win wasn’t as emphatic as their 15-point drubbing of the Cork side in the 2018 All-Ireland club final but still never really looked in doubt after Micheal Lundy gave them a blistering start with a goal after 33 seconds.
The result already secures Corofin a place in the history books in qualifying for a third successive final, having won the decider last season by 12 points. A sizeable portion of the 4,150 crowd didn't gain admittance until after the throw-in due after a long queue for tickets outside Cusack Park. Because of that many will have missed the game’s finest moment, when Lundy finished a brilliant move with less than a minute played.
While Corofin demolished Nemo, the record seven-times All-Ireland club winners, in Croke Park nearly two years ago, they haven’t pulverised teams in semi-finals in the heavier winter-type conditions, with their last two passages to the final being hard earned.
The conditions in Ennis, just a few days into the New Year after the GAA compressed the competition to enable a January conclusion, was better than might have been expected. The day was cool and mostly dry except for some earlier light drizzle, which left it greasy underfoot.
The favourites led all the way, with Lundy’s early strike setting the tone against a team that hadn’t conceded a goal in their previous six championship games. The move was a ruthless and beautiful depiction of Corofin at their best, starting with Gary Sice picking out Martin Farragher with a kick pass and then Farragher, the pivot of much of Corofin’s attacking play, perfectly judging another pass to Lundy. He bided his time before getting away from the goalkeeper’s attentions and hitting the net.
Nemo had plenty of first half possession but Corofin defended as smartly as they attacked, conceding just one free in their own half, with Liam Silke a pestering shadow for the Cork star Luke Connolly - his scoreless first half was compounded by a missed free from 45m that had been brought forward.
Nemo struggled badly on their own kick-out and took until the 24th minute to score, when Alan O’Donovan finally got them off the mark with a fine score from play. By then Corofin had taken control of the match, leading 1-4 to 0-0 inside 18 minutes, before going on a bit of a scoring drought until Kieran Molloy fisted over the bar in the final minute of normal time, leaving them 1-5 to 0-2 ahead at the interval.
Nemo were more aggressive in the tackle after the interval and stayed in touch through the third quarter as the champions got sloppy and kicked some bad wides. With 45 minutes played Corofin led 1-7 0-5, leaving Nemo clinging on to some hope.
But with the Farraghers still dangerous, and Ian Burke springing to life with two classy scores, they saw the game out to take their place in the final on January 19.
Scorers: Corofin - M Lundy 1-1; Martin Farragher, I Burke 0-2; G Sice (f), J Leonard (45), R Stede, K Molloy, Mike Faragher 0-1. Nemo - L Connolly 0-2 (0-1 f), C Horgan, A O’Donovan, K O’Donovan, B O’Driscoll, C Dalton 0-1.
Corofin: B Power; K Fitzgerald, C Silke, L Silke; K Molloy, C Brady, C Cunningham; D Burke, R Steede; Michael Farragher, G Sice, J Leonard; M Lundy, Martin Farragher, I Burke.
Subs: D Wall for Lundy (49 mins); D McHugh for Cunningham (57); G Burke & D Silke for Brady and Sice (60); C McGrath & D Canney for C Silke & Martin Farragher (62).
Nemo Rangers: M Martin; K Histon, A O’Reilly, A Cronin; J Horgan, S Cronin, L O’Donovan; A O’Donovan, J McDermott; B O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O’Brien; C Horgan, L Connolly, M Cronin.
Subs: K Fulignati for O’Brien (41 mins); C Dalton for C Horgan (49); R Dalton for M Cronin (53).
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)