Sunday 22 April 2018

Reaction to controversial sending-off delights Sice

Corofin 1-6 Moorefield 0-6

Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald celebrates after the AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against Moorefield in Tullamore on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile
Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald celebrates after the AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against Moorefield in Tullamore on Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile

Dermot Crowe

Corofin can begin their preparations for a third All-Ireland final appearance, but first they may be preparing an appeal.

A bizarre red card unjustly served on Martin Farragher in the second minute of this All-Ireland semi-final at Tullamore on Saturday loomed large in post-match discussions.

Moorefield's Kevin Murnaghan pushes ahead of Corofin's Dylan Wall. Photo: Sportsfile
Moorefield's Kevin Murnaghan pushes ahead of Corofin's Dylan Wall. Photo: Sportsfile

Their full-forward hadn't touched the ball when he was sent off by referee Derek O'Mahoney, leaving the Galway side with 14 men for the rest of the game.

Television replays showed Farragher had done nothing wrong. Beaten to a high ball by his direct marker, Liam Healy, Farragher was pushed by Moorefield's best player on the day, James Murray, onto Healy who did his Corofin opponent no favours.

Unless the decision is overturned Farragher will miss the final. The controversial call, made after O'Mahoney consulted a linesman, changed the entire complexion of the game.

"We had to reorganise quick and that's what we did and everyone was very calm," Corofin's experienced campaigner Gary Sice said afterwards. "We are a long time around now."

Moorefield 's Cian O'Connor with his father Jack after the match. Photo: Sportsfile
Moorefield 's Cian O'Connor with his father Jack after the match. Photo: Sportsfile

The sides shared just four points in the first half, and they were level twice more in the second period before the game's decisive moment in the final minute. A Corofin attack ended with Ian Burke, one of their best on the day, laying the ball off to the hard-running Liam Silke. The right corner-back made a few yards before coolly placing the ball past Tom Kinsella for the game's only goal.

Moorefield had recovered well after slipping into a three-point deficit in the five minutes after the interval but there was no way back this time. Their hopes of being the first Kildare team to contest an All-Ireland club final were gone.

Corofin's experience was evident in how they dealt with the disadvantage.

Last year's All-Ireland semi-final loss to Dr Crokes also played on their minds.

Corofin's Daithi Burke rises with Moorefield's Ronan Sweeney (left) and Sean Healy. Photo: Sportsfile
Corofin's Daithi Burke rises with Moorefield's Ronan Sweeney (left) and Sean Healy. Photo: Sportsfile

"It was a huge driving force," admitted Sice. "We weren't going to come out here today, regardless of what happened, to be flat."

Corofin expect to find a way through, having won the last five Galway championships, the last two Connacht titles and are now bidding for a second Andy Merrigan in three years.

"We talked a lot about it being an All-Ireland semi-final," said their manager Kevin O'Brien. "How you don't win them easy, you have to keep going to the end and the lads did that."

Moorefield have also dealt with adversity this season, winning their county final against Celbridge after losing two players to dismissals in the first half.

Entering

Corofin players celebrate. Photo: Sportsfile
Corofin players celebrate. Photo: Sportsfile

In the Leinster final they came back from five points down entering injury-time to beat St Loman's, but here they failed to exploit the 'extra man' and were unable to create a goal opportunity over the whole game.

Despite Moorefield's numerical advantage, they didn't score for 14 minutes and then went without a score for the opening 18 minutes of the second half.Their hopes suffered a setback before the start when captain Daryl Flynn was declared unfit to play and their forwards were unable to make much of an impression against a massed Corofin defence.

In the opening half, forced to shoot from distance and under pressure, the Kildare champions hit five wides and left two short. Corofin had the game's first score after 13 minutes following a mistake by Kinsella whose short kick-out was nicked by Michéal Lundy, and Colin Brady placed Jason Leonard for an easy score.

David Whyte's equaliser a minute later was answered by a Sice free in the 20th minute. But Moorefield were level two minutes from half-time when Eanna O'Connor won and pointed a free from close range. However, O'Connor was unable to find the space he used to such good effect in their Leinster campaign.

After the interval Corofin showed their class by increasing the pressure. They managed to look relatively comfortable, with Sice landing a free and two more scores from Ian Burke and Ronan Steede opening up a three-point lead.

"A lot of those scores was about patience, we showed great patience I thought in those moves," said O'Brien.

"The way we kept the ball and then we broke through the lines. We knew Moorefield were going to come back and especially with a man down it is not easy in that situation but the lads did really, really well."

Moorefeld did rally. O'Connor pointed a free in the 48th minute and then two followed in three minutes from Aaron Mullins and the brilliant Murray to leave the sides level for the final 10 minutes.

Sice restored the Corofin lead with his third free, then Cian O'Connor hit a fine equaliser from play in the 55th minute, after a brilliant turnover won by Murray off Kieran Molloy, the ponytailed Corofin wing-back who later dashed to Santry to come on in the final stages of the Sigerson Cup final in Santry for NUIG.

Corofin's only goal chance, in first-half injury time, was squandered by Lundy. Their second was brilliantly taken by Silke. It was a score worthy of winning any match. "The lads are a cool bunch," said O'Brien, "they don't panic and they showed that again."

Scorers - Corofin: G Sice 0-3 (3f); L Silke 1-0; J Leonard, R Steede, I Burke 0-1. Moorefield: E O'Connor 0-2 (2f); 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); C Cunningham for Farragher (62), D McHugh 7 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 (BC, 45); A Mullins for Hurley-Lynch (46); A Sweeney for Whyte (62).

Ref - D O'Mahoney (Tipperary)

Irish Independent

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