Corofin (Galway) 2-13 St Brigid’s (Roscommon) 0-5: In a way, it was a pity that referee Jerome Henry blew full-time just as Michael Farragher bore down on goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time, as another point would have given Corofin the biggest winning margin ever in a Connacht final.
As it happened, the Galway champions equalled the 14-point margin Knockmore inflicted on Leitrim’s Sean O’Heslin’s back in 1973, but the stat by which Corofin measure themselves is silverware.
And so, having collected a seventh Connacht title to join Clann na nGael at the top of the roll of honour just weeks after winning their first four in a row in Galway, Corofin will quickly turn their attentions to a tilt at a third All- Ireland crown in the spring.
They showed at Páirc Sean Mac Diarmada yesterday that they still have loads in the tank, holding the 2013 All-Ireland champions to just 0-5 over the hour, with Eoin Sheehy the only forward to manage a score from play for the Roscommon kingpins.
They rarely looked like getting in for a goal that might have hauled them back into contention after Corofin built up a substantial lead in the opening half.
And with the Galway champions now having conceded just two goals this year in eight championship matches, it is going to take a decent side to stop them in the spring.
St Brigid’s, whose hopes weren’t helped by the unavailability of county player Ian Kilbride, who is on overseas duty with the Defence Forces, were never allowed get a foothold in the match, and were a beaten docket by half-time.
By then, Corofin were 1-8 to 0-3 leaders after a polished opening half where their slick passing cut open the Brigid’s rearguard with precision.
“We were well and truly beaten out the gate, it was probably over at half-time,” admitted St Brigid’s manager Frankie Dolan.
“Corofin got a goal and a number of points and our shooting was terrible today, we missed chance after chance and against the likes of Corofin and that happens, you are going nowhere.
“We were flat going out there and the mistakes killed us, particularly in the first half,” added the former Roscommon star.
Corofin won’t get carried away with this latest success and straight afterwards manager Kevin O’Brien was demanding improvement ahead of their February All-Ireland semi-final showdown with Dr Crokes.
“We are on to another level now and that performance probably wouldn’t be good enough in a semi-final,” said O’Brien.
“I am very fortunate with the group I have: they are all pushing to make the first 15 and I don’t think anyone will rest on their laurels. But it is important to take time out and enjoy this, particularly for the younger players, it is their first Connacht title.
“I think it summed it up that Alan Burke, our captain, didn’t start the last two games but he has stood up and pushed on.”
His side took control from the outset and laid down an early marker with Michael Farragher shooting two points and Dylan Wall and Ian Burke also finding the range as they led by 0-4 to 0-0 after just eight minutes.
Eoin Sheehy eventually got St Brigid’s off the mark after 10 minutes but they were guilty of some wayward shooting and 13 wides to Corofin’s four told its own story.
Karol Mannion followed up Sheehy’s point with a free but then Corofin pulled away with Gary Sice, Ian Burke, and Liam Silke combining for Farragher to blast home a fine goal after 13 minutes.
Jason Leonard extended the lead with three points in a row, two frees. Sheehy and Sice swapped scores to leave Corofin eight in front at the interval.
That was increased to 10 eight minutes after the restart as Sice and All-Star hurler Daithi Burke hit good points.
It took a good save from Corofin goalkeeper Bernard Power to deny a Mannion snapshot. St Brigid’s day got worse when Jason Leonard blasted home Corofin’s second goal after47 minutes after another flowing move involving Michael Lundy, Dylan Wall and Sice.
St Brigid’s were reduced to 14 men when Darren Dolan picked up a second yellow card for a tackle on Sice. A dismal end to what started as such a promising year for Roscommon football.
Scorers for Corofin:
J Leonard (1-3, 2 frees); Michael Farragher (1-2); G Sice (0-4 frees); Dylan Wall, I Burke, D Burke, M Lundy (0-1 each)
Scorers for St Brigid’s:
E Sheehy, K Mannion (frees) (0-2 each); P Kelly (0-1)
B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, C Cunningham; K Molloy, L Silke, C McGrath; D Burke, R Steede; G Sice, D Wall, J Leonard; M Lundy, I Burke, M Farragher.
Subs for Corofin:
B O’Donovan for Molloy (45), A Burke for Cunningham (51), D Canney for Leonard (54), K Murphy for Wall (56),G Higgins for L Silke (56), J Canney for I Burke (58).
S Mannion; R Stack, D Donnelly, D Sheehy; E Sheehy, N Grehan, N McInerney; M Daly, G Dolan; P Kelly, D Dolan, C Murray; K Mannion, S Kilbride, B Stack.
Subs for St Brigid’s:
J Murray for Donnelly (7-11, blood), C McHugh for C Murray (half-time), D Cunniffe for Daly (41), A Gleeson for K Mannion (56), J Murray for Grehan (56),
Jerome Henry (Mayo).
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