Goal from All-Star hurler Burke sends Corofin through
Corofin 2-15 St Brigid's 1-14
Kieran Fitzgerald has been around long enough for Corofin and Galway to appreciate that some victories matter more than most and the veteran defender knows the significance of winning this cracking Connacht semi-final at Tuam Stadium.
Three clubs have dominated the landscape in Connacht in the past decade and a half - there hasn't been a provincial final since 2004 that didn't include at least one of Corofin, Castlebar Mitchels and St Brigid's - and clashes between any of them have been very hard to predict.
A year ago Corofin eased to a 15-point win over St Brigid's but yesterday it took extra-time and a goal from an unlikely source to finally book a place in the final for the Galway champions.
"These are the games we train for in Tuam Stadium," said Fitzgerald.
"The pitch was wonderful and a super buzz around. We are representing Galway and we really enjoy it.
"These are the games we will talk about in years to come. You see the buzz it gives around the parish and we got brilliant support today. We will be hoping for more in two weeks' time," said the former Galway captain.
He's the only one left in this Corofin squad with an All-Ireland senior football medal, but the hero yesterday was Daithi Burke, the full-back on the Galway team which captured the Liam MacCarthy Cup in September.
Burke's father Ger was a long-serving midfielder when Corofin began their dominance of Galway football a quarter of a century ago - 16 titles since 1991 - but his football career has been curtailed by his hurling commitments.
Burke, who will be 25 next Saturday, picked up his third successive All-Star award recently and he was sprung from the bench yesterday to try stem a second-half comeback from a St Brigid's side who battled back from five points adrift to force extra-time.
There had never been a draw in 28 previous meetings between the champions of Galway and Roscommon but a replay looked possible when only a point separated them going into the second period of extra-time.
But that ended just 20 seconds after the resumption when Burke blasted to the net after being set up by his cousin Ian Burke.
The goal put Corofin four points up and while they didn't score again, St Brigid's were held scoreless for the remaining ten minutes of an absorbing contest.
"It was great for Daithi to get the goal," said Corofin manager Kevin O'Brien.
"Credit to him for being in the right place at the right time to score it. Daithi's goal really turned it in extra-time. We started both halves really well."
They will now hope to push on and claim their eighth Connacht club title in two weeks but they will have some concerns why they didn't wrap this one up earlier given that they led by 1-5 to 0-6 at half-time, having played against the stiff breeze.
St Brigid's, who recently made it seven Roscommon titles in the past eight years, looked set to build a decent lead when they led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 23 minutes but then Michael Lundy produced a stunning pass from distance to send county team-mate Ian Burke through and he slotted the ball perfectly into the bottom left corner, with Jason Leonard edging them in front shortly afterwards with the first of two points.
Efforts from Colin Brady and another from Leonard doubled that lead inside two minutes of the restart and while frees from Senan Kilbride and Cathal McHugh kept St Brigid's in touch, the reigning champions took a five-point lead into the final quarter.
Full credit then to St Brigid's for battling back. The impressive Padraig Kelly took a pass from Ronan Stack before setting up McHugh for a goal which left it 1-11 to 1-9 with 13 minutes left.
Kilbride got the margin down to the minimum slipping into stoppage-time and the former Roscommon player displayed nerves of steel to force extra-time with a pointed free from 35 metres in the fifth minute of injury-time and tie them at 1-12 apiece.
Corofin again led at the break playing against the wind, with efforts from Leonard, Gary Sice and Ronan Steede in response to points from Kelly and goalkeeper Shane Mannion from a 45, to take a 1-15 to 1-14 lead into the final segment.
There was only one score in that second period of extra-time, but it was the key score and seldom has an All-Ireland winning full-back shown such a key eye for goal as Burke did with the shot that knocked the heart out of Brigid's.
"It was tough but that's life," lamented Brigid's manager Frankie Dolan.
"We had the chances, especially in normal time, with a few frees that would have put us ahead coming down the final straight. You do that against Corofin, it will come back and haunt you.
"There are huge positives, we had a couple of young lads that came in and went toe to toe with Corofin in their debut season. It's a great experience for them going forward," said Dolan.
Scorers - Corofin: I Burke 1-2, J Leonard 0-4 (1f) and G Sice 0-4 (1f) each, D Burke 1-0, Michael Farragher 0-2, K Molloy 0-1, C Brady 0-1 and R Steede 0-1 each. St Brigid's: S Kilbride 0-7 (6f), C McHugh 1-3 (2f), P Kelly 0-3, S Mannion 0-1 (0-1 45).
Corofin - B Power; K Fitzgerald, C McGrath, L Silke; M Lundy, C Cunningham, K Molloy; Michael Farragher, R Steede; Colin Brady, G Sice, J Leonard; D Wall, Martin Farragher, I Burke. Subs: D McHugh for Lundy (47), D Burke for Cunningham (50), J Burke for Martin Farragher (59), Ciaran Brady for Colin Brady (62), B O'Donovan for K Molloy (70), Colin Brady for Wall (77), K Murphy for Steede (82).
St Brigid's - S Mannion; D Sheehy, N McInerney, J Murray; R Stack, P Domican, I Kilbride; G Dolan, E Nolan; P Kelly, D Dolan, C Murray; B Stack, S Kilbride, C McHugh. Subs: D Donnelly for C Murray (36), D Cunniffe for D Dolan (41), E Sheehy for Nolan (49), J McDonnell for McHugh (59), N Grehan for J Murray (70), McHugh for McDonnell (70), Nolan for Kelly (75).
Ref - Eamonn O'Grady (Leitrim).