Corofin 2-13 Castlebar Mitchels 1-12 (AET)
Corofin eventually got the job done at Tuam Stadium to secure back-to-back Connacht club football titles and a third in four years today, writes Eoghan Cormican.
Having coughed up a five-point lead during the final quarter of normal time, the Galway champions re-asserted themselves during extra-time, outscoring their opponents by 0-6 to 0-2.
The win means Corofin move to the top of the Connacht roll of honour with eight tiles, relegating Roscommon’s Clan na nGael to second.
A Gary Sice point in the second minute of the first period of extra-time was Corofin’s first in 16 minutes. Jason Leonard and Ronan Steede quickly added two more to make it 2-10 to 1-10 in their favour.
They could have sealed matters shortly after, Gary Sice winning a penalty after being taken down by Eoghan O’Reilly. Justin Burke’s effort was saved, though.
A David Stenson free was Castlebar’s sole score during the first period of extra-time, the scoreline reading 2-10 to 1-11 when the teams quickly turned around. Sice, Barry O'Donovan and Martin Farragher put the matter beyond Castlebar in the second period of extra-time.
That we had extra-time was due to a phenomenal last quarter from Castlebar where they kicked five unanswered points to rescue a seemingly lost situation.
Successive scores from Jason Leonard and Martin Farragher had shoved Corofin 2-7 to 1-5 clear on the three-quarter hour mark, but they would not score from there to the finish.
Two apiece from David Stenson and Neil Douglas (one free), cut the margin to the minimum with two of the three additional minutes played.
The Mayo champions turned over Corofin from the ensuing kick-out and they had their equalising chance when Douglas was adjudged to have been fouled by three Corofin defenders. Stenson held his nerve to force extra-time.
Corofin had led 2-4 to 1-3 at the break, with the crucial score of the half arriving three minutes shy of the interval. Ian Burke, having been fouled by Paddy Durkan, showed great awareness to spot Michael Lundy hurtling towards the Castlebar goal.
The free was quickly taken, Lundy was found and the Corofin half-forward rounded Castlebar ‘keeper Rory Byrne for their second goal.
The visitors from Mayo had enjoyed the perfect start when Aidan Walsh was at the end of a slick move involving Cian Costello and Neil Douglas to fist home a goal inside three minutes.
They’d only add three more points, however, for the remainder of the half.
Colin Brad registered Corofin’s first goal to put them 1-1 to 1-0 ahead in the 10th minute. They were led on only one occasion, thereafter.
Scorers for Corofin: J Leonard (0-5, 0-3 frees); C Brady (1-1); G Sice (0-3, 0-2 frees); M Lundy (1-0); Martin Farragher (0-2); R Steede, B O’Donovan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Castlebar Mitchels: D Stenson (0-6, 0-4 frees); N Douglas (0-5, 0-2 frees); A Walsh (1-0); E O’Reilly (0-1 each).
Corofin: B Power; C McGrath, K Fitzgerald, D Wall; K Molloy, C Cunningham, L Silke; Michael Farragher, R Steede; M Lundy, G Sice, J Leonard; C Brady, Martin Farragher, I Burke.
Subs: C Silke for Fitzgerald (21 mins, blood); D Burke for Brady (54); J Burke for Martin Farragher, D McHugh for Molloy (both 57); B O’Donovan for Lundy (61); C Brady for Wall (62); K Murphy for McGrath (62, inj); K Molloy for Cunningham (73); Martin Farragher for Justin Burke (70).
Castlebar Mitchels: R Byrne; D Newcombe, G McDonagh, R O’Malley; J Maughan, E O’Reilly, P Durkan; A Walsh, B Moran; S Hopkins, D Kirby, C Costello; J Durkan, N Douglas, D Stenson.
Subs: S Irwin for Maughan (33 mins); N McCarney for Hopkins (47); M Towey for Walsh (73); C Kyne for Costello (74); M McCormack for McCarney (77, bc);
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).
Elsewhere, this year's Leinster football final will be contested by Moorefield of Kildare and Saint Lomans of Westmeath.
Moorefield defeated Rathnew by 2-13 to 2-7, and Saint Lomans overcame Simonstown Gaels by 13 points to 1-8 to reach their first Leinster final.