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Micheal Lundy shoots to score Corofin’s first point despite the challenge of Slaughtneil’s Christopher McKaigue

Micheal Lundy shoots to score Corofin’s first point despite the challenge of Slaughtneil’s Christopher McKaigue

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Patsy Bradley, Slaughtneil, in action against Cathal Silke, Corofin

Patsy Bradley, Slaughtneil, in action against Cathal Silke, Corofin

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Ronan Steede, Corofin, spins away from a challenge from Conan Cassidy, Slaughtneil

Ronan Steede, Corofin, spins away from a challenge from Conan Cassidy, Slaughtneil

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Martin Farragher, Corofin, scores his side's only goal past Slaughtneil goalkeeper Antoin McMullan

Martin Farragher, Corofin, scores his side's only goal past Slaughtneil goalkeeper Antoin McMullan

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Corofin team mates Ronan Steede, left, and Gary Sice, celebrate after the final whistle

Corofin team mates Ronan Steede, left, and Gary Sice, celebrate after the final whistle

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Corofin's captain Michael Farragher celebrates his side's victory

Corofin's captain Michael Farragher celebrates his side's victory

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Micheal Lundy shoots to score Corofin’s first point despite the challenge of Slaughtneil’s Christopher McKaigue

It was a bad day for maroon-and-white in Croke Park yesterday but, on this occasion, Galwegians were pleased to see their county colours lowered.

Instead, they celebrated an All-Ireland success for their club champions as Corofin systematically worked their way through a disappointingly weak Slaughtneil challenge.

Corofin's return to the summit for the first time since 1998 was achieved with a slick shift up through the gears after a chugging start.

Once they got through that manoeuvre, they applied the cruise control, leaving the Derry and Ulster champions a long way behind.

Corofin went into the final as hot favourites after deposing last year's champions St Vincent's in the semi-final and while it took them a while to look the part, they eventually lived up to their star billing.

Slaughtneil led by 0-2 to 0-1 after 10 minutes but were out-scored by 1-13 to 0-5 from there on. And their misery was compounded in the 72nd minute when Cormac O'Doherty drove a penalty wide.

WRONG

A goal would have done no more than make Slaughtneil's first appearance in the All-Ireland final look better in the record books but it wasn't to be on a day when so much went wrong for them.

That included a fourth-minute call by referee David Coldrick who gave Corofin the benefit of the doubt when Paul Bradley appeared to have been grounded as he bore down on goal. The Corofin defence could not have complained if a penalty had been awarded but the referee waved play on.

"Maybe we should have had a penalty - I'll have to have a closer look at it later," said Slaughtneil selector John Joe Kearney.

A goal at that stage would have left Corofin facing a much tougher challenge but, in all probability, they would have worked their way through it.

Once they got their pass-and-move game operating smoothly, they were vastly superior to rivals who never quite replicated the form that took them through Ulster and past Austin Stacks in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Micheal Lundy led Corofin's surge out of their early sluggishness, scoring three excellent points from play in a two-minute burst near the end of the first quarter. It was the launch pad for a man-of-the-match performance by Lundy, whose running, passing and positioning left the Slaughtneil defence with a splitting headache.

Corofin raised the stakes ever higher early in the second quarter when Gary Sice played Martin Farragher in for a goal.

They led by 1-8 to 0-3 at half-time, having reached 1-6 before they shot their first wide in the 26th minute.

Given Slaughtneil's serious problems all over the pitch, the situation looked utterly irretrievable and so it proved.

Corofin won the second half 0-6 to 0-4, while looking very much like a group that were playing comfortably within themselves and well capable of raising their game if required.

Their speed in attack was clearly something Slaughtneil hadn't encountered en route to Croke Park. Indeed, if Corofin had been a little more precise in their movements, the winning margin would have been considerably higher.

Not that it mattered on a day when they held so many advantages. Among those was a control around midfield where Daithi Burke and Ronan Steede were a dominant influence, with Lundy and Sice feeding contentedly off them.

"When Corofin got into top gear we didn't compete with them. We didn't win the battle at midfield - a very important part of Gaelic football," lamented Kearney.

"All the breaks seemed to go their way. Having said that, they were the better team. We have no arguments with that."

He felt that, as a team, Slaughtneil came nowhere close to playing to full potential, while also acknowledging Corofin's quality.

"We under-performed. I didn't think the occasion would get to the players but it looked a bit that way. All over the field, there were problems," he said.

They were caused mainly by Corofin's capacity to build up wave after wave of enterprise and once they shook off their early shackles, they were always going to have a most enjoyable afternoon.

Manager Stephen Rochford said that while it took longer than expected for his side to get into full stride, they were still doing okay early on.

"The first quarter was nip and tuck. Slaughtneil had hit two or three fabulous points early on while we were slowly getting up to the pace of the game.

"In the second quarter we pushed on and had a nice margin going into half-time," said Rochford.

Corofin always believed that the wide open spaces of Croke Park would suit them and so it proved.

They are a much more athletic side that Slaughtneil, an advantage they exploited intelligently.

"It's difficult to cover every space in Croke Park and our view was that if we could win the ball in defence in turnovers or whatever, we would move it with pace inside their '45' before they could get numbers back," said Rochford.

The tactic worked well, enabling Corofin to take the title back to Galway for the first time since 2006 when Salthill-Knocknacarra triumphed.

Scorers - Corofin: G Sice 0-5 (4fs), M Lundy 0-3, Martin Farragher 1-0, Michael Farragher, G Delaney, L Silke (f), R Steede, I Burke, J Canney 0-1 each. Slaughtneil: G Bradley 0-3, C Bradley (f), C McKaigue, Paul Bradley (f), P Kelly (f) 0-1 each.

Corofin - T Healy; C McGrath, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; G Higgins, A Burke, L Silke; D Burke, R Steede; G Sice, Michael Farragher, G Delaney; Martin Farragher, M Lundy, I Burke. Subs: D Wall for Michael Farragher (49), J Burke for Steede (55), M Comer for C Silke (56), C Cunningham for Higgins (56), J Canney for I Burke for (57), K Murphy for Delaney (58).

Slaughtneil - A McMullan; F McEldowney, B Rodgers, K McKaigue; C Cassidy, C McKaigue, B McGuigan; Patsy Bradley, P McGuigan; P Kelly, C Bradley, R Bradley; G Bradley, Paul Bradley, C O'Doherty. Subs: P McNeill for C Cassidy (43), S McGuigan for R Bradley (43), P Cassidy for Kelly (43), F McEldowney for C Bradley (51), S Kelly for P McGuigan (51), P Kearney for B McGuigan (56).

Ref - D Coldrick (Meath)

The game at a glance

Attendance: 29,752

Man of the match

Micheal Lundy (Corofin)

He wore No 14 but didn't play like a traditional full-forward, opting instead to wander far and wide. His early three-point burst settled Corofin into an impressive rhythm.

Turning point

None. Once Corofin recovered from an edgy opening 10 minutes, they were vastly superior in all sectors. talking point

Was this the last club final to be played on St Patrick's Day?

Magic moment

It was more a case of solid efficiency by Corofin, whose cohesion all over the pitch often left Slaughtneil with serious problems.

Ref watch

It was a big - and possibly wrong - decision by David Coldrick not to award a penalty to Slaughtneil in the fourth minute. After that, there were no real contentious decisions.

What they said

Stephen Rochford (Corofin manager)

"Getting across the line was all that mattered, no matter what shape it took. The margin isn't something that concerns me. We pushed on in the second quarter and had a nice margin going into half-time."

JJ Kearney (Slaughtneil selector)

"Corofin were the better team - no argument with that. They played very much as we expected them to. We thought we'd curtail them a bit better than we did."

Irish Independent