Corofin 2-13 Gaoth Dobhair 1-12
Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien spoke with pride about his players after they earned another All-Ireland final spot at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.
The reigning champions have won two of the last four Andy Merrigan Cups and with a perfect record in these finals, winning three from three, they will be difficult to beat when they face Munster kingpins Dr Crokes.
But Gaoth Dobhair provided a stellar test on their first appearance in an All-Ireland semi-final at Páirc Seán Mac Diarmada in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday.
“We were probably frustrated at times in terms of the way we gave away the ball cheaply. But overall we played well,” said O’Brien.
“We were probably disappointed to give away their goal earlier on. But the lads showed great resolve there.
“They are a great bunch. They showed character to come back and the hunger again. That game was in the boiling pot for a long time today.
“They showed great resilience and character. They should be awful proud of themselves again.”
Corofin’s experience was crucial in the second half after they lost their joint-captain Micheál Lundy to a black card in the second half.
Gary Sice’s 1-7 was massive and he will be a major bonus going into the final.
Corofin won their first All-Ireland final in 1998 but since then they have been a dominant force in Galway and Connacht.
O’Brien’s side were 27-point winners over Roscommon’s Clann na Gael after they were crowned county champions for the sixth time in-a-row this season.
They had a narrow 2-10 to 1-9 Connacht final win over Mayo outfit Ballintubber and this was another hard-fought victory.
“Super performance, Gary played really really well. He got some crucial scores,” said O’Brien.
“Discipline comes into it again. We got some tough frees and discipline probably made them easy frees for us, but that is sport and that is the way the game is played.
“We expected what we got from Gaoth Dobhair today. They are a fine side and they played the game very hard and very fair and fair dues to them.
“We are delighted to be in the final again and we are looking forward to it now. It is hard to believe we are back there.
“It seems a very short year but we have work to do and that is probably a good way to go into a final.”
Gaoth Dobhair brought a massive support as part of the 5,109 in attendance but they failed to make their chances pay.
“It is tough to go out like that but we have had a good year and there is no point in saying we didn’t,” said manager Mervyn O’Donnell.
“We were happy with Ulster but when you get to this stage you want to go further. It just didn’t happen.”
Gaoth Dobhair won their first county title in 12 years this season and they beat Crossmaglen and Scotstown on their way to the final four.
“Ulster was one of our aims and when we got over the first game we did feel that we could beat Crossmaglen.
“We had a good look at Crossmaglen and we thought this is one of our chances. Again today we felt like we could beat Corofin.
“Our decision making wasn’t good enough. We gave away a lot of kick-out.
“We just looked at our stats at half-time. They had 90 per cent conversion rate, we had something like 60.
“Do the maths, it’s just not good enough and that is what it came down to.”
COROFIN: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke (0-1); D Wall, D McHugh, K Molloy; D Burke (0-1), R Steede; J Leonard (0-2, one free), M Lundy, Mike Farragher; G Sice (1-7, seven frees), Martin Farragher (1-0), I Burke (0-1).
Subs: G Burke (0-1) for Wall (36 mins), C Brady for Lundy (37, b/c), C Cunningham for McHugh (55), C McGrath for Martin Farragher (58), D Canney for Sice (61).
GAOTH DOBHAIR: C Sweeney; G McFadden, N McGee, C McFadden; N Friel (0-1), O McFadden-Ferry, D Ó Baoill (0-1); E McGee, O Mac Niallais (0-2, one free); D McBride, M Carroll, N Ó Baoill; C Mulligan (0-2), K Cassidy (1-2), E Collum (0-2, one free).
Subs: J Carroll (0-2) for N Ó Baoill (56 mins), J Boyle for C McFadden (58).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).