All to easy for Corofin as Salthill fail to stop domination
Galway champions show sure signs of further progression
Sean Armstrong of Salthill Knocknacarra and Kieran Comer of Corofin. Photograph: Mike Shaughnessy/Inpho
Corofin 2-13 Salthill Knocknacarra 0-7
Corofin are edging ever closer to the sepia-tinted history of Dunmore McHales after joining them on the roll of honour in winning their 15th Galway championship yesterday.
They also advertised their potential as winners of the All-Ireland title by totally bossing a disappointing Salthill side from beginning to end.
Corofin’s domination of the county scene looks set to continue. Kieran Fitzgerald, the resident full-back, won his eighth county medal yesterday in a display that marked a radical departure from the thou-shalt-not-pass ethos with which they have dominated the Galway theatre but always fell short of emulating their memorable 1998 All-Ireland success.
They still know how to pack their defence when the occasion demands but their play has been more expansive throughout the championship and they were a pleasure to watch at times yesterday.
The story of the day belonged to Gary Sice, who gave an exceptional exhibition of forceful and creative forward play from beginning to end. In his days in maroon, Sice was sometimes a victim of his versatility but he is clearly revelling in the slick attacking patterns which Corofin now employ.
Sice was literally unmarkable yesterday, roving with impunity across the 50 before making clever runs.
He finished with 1-4 but it was the intelligence and pace of his running which cut the Salthill defence to ribbons, winning two first-half penalties – Gary Delaney angled the first wide, Kieran Comer smashed the second – which gave his team a momentum they never lost.
Sice effectively ended the contest in the 36th minute when he charged through and took a pop pass from Mike Farragher before firing home at close range.
That left the score at 2-08 to 0-5 and although Corofin visibly relaxed for the last 20 minutes, Salthill could only produce a further two points.
“It was a nice one for us,” Sice said afterwards. “We felt last year that we didn’t perform so this year we were on a mission. I got on the end of a few but the work rate of the backs was unbelievable and it was easy to kick them over after all their hard work. The tackling and harassing was unbelievable. So we will enjoy this for a couple of nights and then go back at it.”
Corofin’s defence was terrifically organised, with Fitzgerald conducting matters and Michael Comer in superb form. Greg Higgins broke forward for a marvellous first-half point but most of the time they let the ball do the work with Kieran Comer continuing his role as the unflappable playmaker of the team.
Salthill simply couldn’t live with the speed at which the ball was transfer or the angles at which they were attacked. Seán Armstrong managed two terrific points out of the blue, Derek O’Flaherty was introduced and kicked two good points and Finian Hanley put out several fires in front of the Salthill goals and David Tierney made a couple of fine fetches at midfield.
The 10 minute period in the first half when Gary Cox and Tierney ran hard at the Corofin defenders will be studied with interest by future opponents: it was the one area in which the champions looked vulnerable.
Seamie Crowe kept showing for ball all afternoon but Salthill couldn’t keep possession and chased shadows as the Corofin men wove it through them in leisurely fashion and then attacked the fullback line with pace.
Sice got through again just a minute after his goal but Ian Burke was called for an illegal handpass. It didn’t matter: Kieran Comer rambled up field to kick two points on the trot and after that, Salthill seemed resigned to their fate.
“We knew Salthill are a dangerous outfit,” Fitzgerald said. “Sean Armstrong and Seamie Crowe up front – you give these guys inches and they will take miles. But our lads worked really hard at the back and our forwards are doing really well at the minute.”