Gary Sice to the fore again as Corofin edge Tuam Stars to win seventh consecutive Galway crown
Corofin 0-11 Tuam Stars 0-8
Corofin’s 45-game unbeaten run in Galway championship continues after they finally solved the Tuam Stars puzzle to claim a seventh county title in a row after this exciting replay at Tuam Stadium.
Two weeks ago, it seemed as if that run had been ended by Stars, but a couple of Gary Sice frees saved the day for the double All-Ireland champions. Sice was in the thick of it again for Corofin and he added a couple of key frees during their second-half revival, but this was very much a team effort from Kevin O’Brien’s side.
With captain Micheál Lundy, record Galway medallist Kieran Fitzgerald – he won his 14th title – and hurling All-Star Dáithí Burke back in the starting team, there was a steely edge to Corofin, but they needed all of that experience to come though a very stern assessment from Stars, who remain three clear of Corofin in the records, despite a 21st victory for Corofin.
Like in their drawn game, Tuam Stars dominated their opponents for extended periods with big performances from Gary O’Donnell and Jamie Murphy, but once Kevin O’Brien’s side sorted out their uncharacteristic poor shooting, they ran out convincing winners.
Tuam led by a point at half-time and by two when Murphy found the target after the restart, but Corofin scored five points without reply in a 20-minute spell to take the win.
There were ten Corofin wides and another ten missed opportunities, but the only relevant statistic was the three-point win that their supporters celebrated with gusto. Their drive for three consecutive All-Ireland championships will start again next Sunday against Mayo champions Ballintubber in the provincial semi-final.
"Over the last seven years this club has worked really, really hard to get seven titles in a row," said O’Brien. "You have to remember players today; Kieran Comer and Mike Comer, Dave Morris, they are all involved there along with Gary Delaney and Greg Higgins, Alan Burke and Damien Burke as well.
"We have great players that have been involved and it is a fantastic day for the club. We will enjoy the night and look forward to next week.
"Tuam asked a lot of questions of us and there was a stage in that second half when they went two points up but our fellas really turned it on. They worked until the end."
For three quarters of an hour this was a tight affair. Twenty seconds in Jason Leonard gave Corofin the lead, but when Michael Farragher doubled that lead four minutes later, Tuam Stars responded expertly with three points back-to-back from Murphy, Gary O’Donnell and Brian Mannion.
But it was Tuam who bossed the second quarter and Daragh O’Rourke and Brian Mannion gave them a deserved 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead.
Playing against the wind would prove tough for Tuam after the break, but they still led in the 41st minute when Ben O’Connell’s clever pick-up and point gave them the edge. They didn’t score again until the fourth minute of added-time though and by that stage Corofin had the win in the bag. Two Sice frees gave them the lead, while their excellent midfield duo Ronan Steede and Molloy finished off the job. Tuam still have a Galway league final to look forward to, but it will take some time to get over this.
"To do what we have done this year and get to the county final, it is a pity we didn’t win it," said Tuam manager Tommy Carton. "Corofin came at us in the third quarter like they usually do and fair play to them, they have another title won.
"I am very proud of our lads, they put up a great fight. But the only thing it does show for us is the future. We can build on this defeat."
Scorers – Corofin: J Leonard 0-3 (1f), G Sice 0-3 (3f), Martin Farragher 0-2; Michael Farragher, R Steede, K Molloy 0-1 each. Tuam Stars: J Murphy 0-3 (2f); B Mannion 0-2 (1f); G O’Donnell, D O’Rourke, B O’Connell 0-1 each.
Corofin – B Power; D Wall, R Mahon, K Fitzgerald; D Burke, D McHugh, L Silke; K Molloy, R Steede; M Lundy, Michael Farragher, J Leonard; G Sice, Martin Farragher, I Burke. Subs: C Brady for McHugh (40), D Silke for Lundy (42), G Burke for Mahon (54), C Cunningham for D Burke (60+2), D Canney for Martin Farragher (60+3).
Tuam Stars – J Trayers; R O’Connor, B O’Donnell, B Mashengele; G O’Donnell, A Tierney, D O’Rourke; C Rhatigan, P Collins (capt); N Henry, J Murphy, S Kelly; B Mannion, M Mannion, B O’Connell. Subs: G Connell for M Mannion (47), C McWalter for Henry (54), A O’Connell for Mashengele (60).
REF – N Dempsey.