Gall's in Sevens heaven as Niblock saves the day
St Gall's (Antrim) 0-13
Corofin (Galway) 1-10
(St Gall's won 2-0 on pens)
St Gall's won the 40th All-Ireland football Sevens title in dramatic circumstances against luckless Corofin at Glenalbyn on Saturday evening.
The Antrim men were trailing by a point in the dying embers of the final when Corofin were penalised by Cormac Reilly for playing a back-pass from a dead ball. Kevin Niblock had been outstanding throughout, scoring three points in the first half, and he was given the responsibility of grasping this late opportunity from tight on the left sideline.
If the county star felt any pressure, he certainly didn't show it, flighting his kick over the bar in the last act of normal time to bring the final to penalties.
CJ McGourty converted the first kick before Kevin McGourty saved the effort of Gary Sice.
Niblock continued his clinical shooting to make it 2-0 and when Kevin McGourty saved Colm O'Donovan's effort, St Gall's had secured their fourth title in eight years, and their fifth in total.
It was tough on Corofin, who were the last non-Ulster team to win the Sevens in 2004. And it was particularly harsh on Sice and O'Donovan, who were the Galway side's best players.
O'Donovan didn't have a good time with his penalty-taking, missing one in an earlier round, and in normal time of the final, before seeing his kick saved in the shoot-out.
The first half was an all-action affair with most attacks resulting in scores as the two teams opted to accept the point-scoring opportunities available to them rather than attempting to carve out goal chances.
The teams were level three times in the opening five minutes but St Gall's finished the first half strongly. CJ McGourty, Kieran McGourty, Niblock and Michael Pollack all raised white flags, while O'Donovan provided Corofin's sole response in that period.
O'Donovan had a gilt-edged opportunity from the penalty spot but his low shot was saved by Kevin McGourty and Gall's went in at the interval leading by 0-7 to 0-4.
Sice was central to Corofin's second-half efforts and his thunderous left-footed drive to the top corner of the St Gall's net helped them to establish a three-point advantage.
They couldn't hold on, though, and it was the sevens specialists who prevailed in the end.
Scorers -- St Gall's: K Niblock 0-4 (1f), CJ McGourty 0-3(1f), Kieran McGourty, M Pollock 0-2 each, T O'Neill, S Burke 0-1 each. Corofin: G Sice 1-3, C O'Donovan 0-4 (1f), G Higgins, T Monaghan, B O'Donovan 0-1 each
St Gall's -- Kieran McGourty, Kevin McGourty, C Brady, M Kelly, TJ O'Neill, M Pollock, K Niblock, S Burke, A Gallagher, CJ McGourty.
Corofin -- D Morris, G Higgins, K McGrath, M Comer, C O'Donovan, T Monaghan, S Monaghan, B O'Donovan, G Sice, K Fitzgerald.
Ref -- C Reilly (Meath)
Full Sevens scoreboard in GAA results