Corofin poised to appeal red card after sealing final berth
Corofin 1-6 Moorefield 0-6
When they won the All-Ireland three years ago, for the second time, Corofin were rightly praised for their stylish play. They were a breath of fresh air in that respect but yesterday they had to draw on all their wits to survive a match in which they were a man down in the second minute after a controversial red card for full-forward Martin Farragher.
Farragher's dismissal was a massive call by referee Derek O'Mahoney after he had consulted with a linesman, and one not justified by the television replays, which he did not have the benefit of referring to. It came after a high ball was spectacularly fielded by Liam Healy, who then hit the ground and, in trying to rise up again, fell theatrically. Farragher's knee was close to Healy's head but there appeared to be no contact.
"They are big calls and it is disappointing to get them wrong," said Corofin manager Kevin O'Brien, having seen a clip of the incident. "I feel sorry for Martin, he is a fella who has a lot of work put it. He was injured last year and came back."
O'Brien said he would talk to club officials about a possible appeal but it seems certain they will seek to have it overturned so that Farragher can play in the final. They meet the winners of next Saturday's semi-final between Slaughtneil and Nemo Rangers on March 17.
In an otherwise pedestrian match, the game's only goal, in the final minute, decided the outcome with the teams level at six points apiece.
A classic Corofin move ended with corner-back Liam Silke taking a pass from Ian Burke and calmly placing the ball past Tom Kinsella. On the day, when calm was needed, Corofin had that bit more than Moorefield, who were bidding to become the first Kildare side to make the final.
The first half only produced four points, evenly shared, and Moorefield didn't score for 18 minutes of the second half after Corofin made an explosive restart that brought scores from Gary Sice, a free, and then two more from the impressive Burke and Ronan Steede inside five minutes to open a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
Moorefield used Liam Callaghan as their spare man but were still fortunate not to concede a goal in first-half injury time when Michéal Lundy turned inside his man, after a precision ball from Burke, then dragged his shot wide.
Corofin defended in numbers and forced the Kildare side to shoot from distance and under pressure. In the first half Moorefield spent enough time in the opposition half to warrant a better return than one point from play. But five efforts sailed wide, one struck a post and two others fell into the goalkeeper's hands. At no stage did they threaten to score a goal.
James Murray was their outstanding player and his turnover, robbing Kieran Molloy who was on his way up the wing on an attack, led to their last score of the game with five minutes left that drew them level. It came from Cian O'Connor and at that stage, with extra-time looming, it looked like either team could nail the winning score.
It took Moorefield, who lost influential captain Daryl Flynn to injury, 14 minutes to open their scoring, David Whyte pointing after good work by Murray. Corofin went ahead after 13 scoreless minutes following a mistake by Kinsella whose short kick-out was nicked by Lundy, and Colin Brady placed Jason Leonard for an easy score. Whyte's equaliser a minute later was answered by a Sice free in the 20th minute to restore Corofin's lead. But Moorefield were level two minutes from half-time when Eanna O'Connor won and pointed a free from close range.
After the interval Corofin increased the pressure and looked relatively comfortable. Kieran Fitzgerald had to save Steede's blushes 12 minutes in when O'Connor's free dropped short and Steede spilled the ball but the goal chance quickly evaporated when the Corofin full-back won back the ball.
Then, out of nowhere, Moorefield found their scoring boots, registering three points in four minutes. Eanna O'Connor had their first point of the second half, a free, and Aaron Mullins and Murray added two more to level the teams at five points each. Sice and Cian O'Connor exchanged scores before Silke's final telling intervention.
Sice said last year's All-Ireland semi final loss to Dr Crokes inspired them. "It was a huge driving force," he explained. "We weren't going to come out here today and, regardless of what happened, be flat."
Scorers - Corofin: G Sice 0-3 (3fs); L Silke 1-0; J Leonard, R Steede, I Burke 0-1. Moorefield: E O'Connor 0-2 (2fs); D Whyte, C O'Connor, A Mullins, J Murray 0-1.
Corofin: B Power; L Silke, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; Michael Farragher, D Wall, K Molloy; D Burke, R Steede; M Lundy, G Sice, J Leonard; C Brady, Martin Farragher, I Burke. Subs: B O'Donovan for Brady (50 mins); C Cunningham for Farragher (62); D McHugh for Wall (62).
Moorefield: T Kinsella; L Callaghan, L Healy, M Dempsey; J Murray, K Murnaghan, S Healy; D Whyte, A Masterson; C O'Connor, A Durney; N Hurley Lynch, R Sweeney, E O'Connor. Subs: A Tyrrell for Durney (35); I Meehan for Heavey (41); M Murray for Tyyrell (black card 45); A Mullins for Hurley-Lynch (46); A Sweeney for Whyte (62).
Referee: D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).
Sunday Indo Sport