Corofin claim their fourth Connacht title in a row
Reigning All-Ireland champions put scrappy game away with minimum fuss
Corofin celebrate with the Connacht club trophy. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
Corofin 1-10 Padraig Pearses 0-7
All-Ireland champions Corofin gave a further demonstration of their ability to play it any way the opposition want and reeled off a fourth successive Connacht title against first-time Roscommon champions Pádraig Pearses before around 4,000 in Tuam Stadium on Sunday.
Having played a patient possession game in the first half, they reacted with lethal impact when threatened in the third quarter and put away the game with minimum fuss.
The challengers brought a spiky defiance in a largely defensive match, frequently bristling with ill-humoured aggression. It was scrappy and required match officials to have eyes in the back of their heads.
There were three black cards and one red. The Carty brothers Niall and Shane were each black-carded for rugby tackles in either half and Corofin’s Conor Cunningham was also dismissed in the fall-out from a 25th-minute scatter. Later Niall Daly picked up two yellow cards for a 58th-minute red.
In the third quarter, however, a bit of football broke out, as Pearses wiped out a three-point half-time deficit within 10 minutes of the resumption.
It was their best phase in a match that had seen very sluggish scoring in the first half. They ran at Corofin with a bit of urgency and focused on getting shots away after a first half that saw them score two points (both frees) and manage only two other attempts although Liam Silke had to pluck one shot off the line after Paul Carey had wriggled into a good position after a free came back off the post.
Carey kicked their first point from play as late as the 34th minute but two of the Dalys, Niall and Ronan, hit another two in quick succession just after Ronan Steede had in replay bent one over with the outside of the boot. Just as the champions came under real pressure, however, they did what they always do.
A devastating 60 seconds from the 43rd minute halted Pearses’ momentum in its tracks. Firstly, Jason Leonard flighted a fine long-range ball into Ian Burke, who turned and teed up Liam Silke – once again underlining the inadvisability of letting him mark a ‘roving’ forward, as his supporting run took him into the danger area and his finish was as accomplished as ever.
Almost immediately there was nearly another goal. Daithi Burke got a flick on the ball and hit the crossbar and from the rebound, Michael Farragher had a sight of goal but the ball flew over. So, suddenly and despite Pearses’ revival, Corofin had extended the half-time lead to four, 1-7 to 0-6.
They never let up and the contest died on the spot. The Roscommon side didn’t score again until it was over and the net effect was simply to trim the losing margin.
“There was a lot of big men out there and a lot of hard hits going in,” said Kieran Molloy, restored to wing back after some matches at centrefield. “They were trying to get you into the middle, hit you hard and turn you over. We were able to ride the challenges thank God.”
He also said that he believed the team was picking up momentum.
“Definitley. There are a few changes there: I was playing midfield but I am back where I used to be. We are getting back to our ways again and gelling as we used to.
“It’s great to have another Connacht title. It’s probably something we never dreamed of when we won our first in ’91 – that we would win four-in-a-row and this is the 10th.”
Manager Kevin O’Brien reflected on the varying demands of this season with the All-Ireland stages brought forward nearly two months to the start of January.
“In the past, we’ve taken some time off. But with six weeks, we’ll have to rethink that. I’m not sure. Six weeks is not that long away.”
COROFIN: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke (1-0); K Molloy, C Cunningham, D Wall (0-1); D Burke, R Steede (0-1); G Sice (0-2, frees), M Farragher (0-2), J Leonard (0-3, one free); M Lundy, Martin Farragher, I Burke. Subs: D McHugh for Cunningham (black card, 27 mins),C Brady (0-1) for Lundy (43 mins), D Silke for C Silke (43 mins), G Burke for Wall (59 mins), C McGrath for Martin Farragher (60 mins), D Canney for Steede (60 mins, temporary) D Hynes for Michael Farragher (64 mins).
PÁDRAIG PEARSES: P Whelan; M Richardson, A Butler, G Downey; S Carty, D Murray, R Daly (joint-capt; 0-1); N Daly (0-1), C Daly; E Kelly (0-1, 45), L Daly, P Carey (0-3, two frees); C Payne, H Darcy (0-1, free), N Carty (joint-capt). Subs: T Butler for N Carty (black card, 19 mins), S Fahy for Kelly (53 mins), A Duffy for S Carty (black card, 54 mins), A Feehily for Downey (58 mins), J Kelly for Payne (63 mins), S Mulvey for L Daly (63 mins).
Referee: Eamon O’Grady (Leitrim)