Corofin still best in the west
AIB Connacht Club SFC Final
COROFIN (GALWAY) 2-10 BALLINTUBBER (MAYO) 1-9
By Colm Gannon at Elverys MacHale Park
A strong second half showing from the defending All Ireland champions saw them bag their ninth Connacht title in Castlebar on Sunday afternoon, but they didn’t have it all their own way throughout the game.
Ballintubber started in quickfire fashion, with Cillian O’Connor and Alan Dillon both kicking points inside the opening four minutes.
Corofin got the scoreboard moving six minutes in when Colin Brady slotted the ball over after a surging run through the heart of a packed Ballintubber defence.
The Mayo champions edged two points clear again when Cillian O'Connor fired over his second point of the day from out on the right and they pushed that lead out to three points when Jason Gibbons dropped one over with the aid of the crossbar.
Corofin dominated the football for the next 10 minutes - they they struggled to breakdown the Ballintubber defensive system, they were forced over and back the field with the ball and only managed to create one half chance that dropped short.
They finally broke through the rearguard 21 minutes in when Dylan Wall cut through at pace and fed Martin Farragher to cut the gap to two points. Four minutes later they had the ball in the back of the net, Liam Silke looked to have overcooked his pass to Micheal Lundy, but the Corofin captain was able to take on his man and hammer the ball home from close range to put his side into the lead for the first time.
That lead didn’t last too long as Ballintubber replied with 1-1 inside two minutes, Alan Plunkett slotted over a fine point from the right and after winning possession back from the resulting kick-out Diarmuid O’Connor picked out Ciaran Gavin - who in turn fed Jamsie Finnerty to slot the ball home to the net to leave Ballintubber leading 1-5 to 1-2 at the turnaround.
That lead lasted all of six minutes into the second half - Gary Sice slotted over a free from close range, then Jason Leonard tapped one over after some hard work by Michael Lundy and Mike Farragher levelled it up with one from distance.
The All Ireland champions introduced Ian Burke from the bench and less than a minute later he had the ball in the back of the net. Ballintubber wasted a good chance to edge back in front and from the resulting kickout the ball was worked down the field and pace and Sice fed Burke, who hammered it home from close range.
The Mayo men weren’t going to give in that easily, though, and Cillian O’Connor slotted over two points from placed balls and missed a third one that could have levelled it up. However, Corofin went back down the park and a point from play by Burke was followed by another Sice free to put the Galway men into a 2-7 to 1-7 lead with a quarter of the game left.
Kieran Molloy struck over a beauty from out on the right hand side on 48 minutes and two minutes later Sice kicked his third point of the day to put five between the teams. That was followed not long after by a point from Liam Silke on run to put two goals between the teams.
Alan Dillon and Michael Plunkett both slotted over points from play to cut the gap to four points as the game slipped into injury time - but it was always going to be to little to late as Corofin wound the clock down to claim their ninth Connacht senior club title.
Scorers for Corofin: Ian Burke 1-1, Micheal Lundy 1-0, Gary Sice 0-3 (3fs), Liam Silke, Kieran Molloy, Mike Farragher, Jason Leonard, and Martin Farragher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballintubber: Cillian O'Connor 0-4 (2fs), Jamsie Finnerty 1-0, Alan Dillon 0-2, Jason Gibbons, Michael Plunkett, and Alan Plunkett 0-1 each.
COROFIN: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, D Burke, D Wall; Ciaran Brady, R Steede; G Sice, Michael Farragher, J Leonard; Martin Farragher, Colin Brady, M Lundy.
Subs: D Silke for Ciaran Brady, I Burke for D Silke, D McHugh for C Silke, C Cunningham for D Wall, D Canny for Colin Brady.
BALLINTUBBER: B Walsh; G Loftus, C Hallinan, B Murphy; D Coleman, M Plunkett, R O’Connor; J Gibbons, D O’Connor; C Gavin, A Dillon, A Plunkett; B Walsh, C O’Connor, J Finnerty.
Subs: M Kelly for R O’Connor, P O’Connor for C Gavin, J Geraghty for A Plunkett,
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).