The AIB Connacht Club SFC final will be a Galway-Roscommon affair after Corofin and St Brigid’s came through today’s semi-final encounters.
Just a week after winning the Galway title, Corofin showed their mettle by overcoming an early 1-4 to 0-1 deficit to beat Mayo champions Ballintubber on a 1-11 to 2-7 scoreline.
Cillian O’Connor, the recently-named GAA/GPA Young Player of the Year, was in inspirational form for Ballintubber in the opening stages at McHale Park.
He converted a second-minute free to put them ahead and added two more scores as they took a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. Alan O’Donovan, who went on to have a pivotal role, opened Corofin’s account after nine minutes.
But, just moments later, O’Connor slipped away from his marker to fire a low shot into the right corner of the net and stretch Ballintubber’s advantage to six points.
But for the remainder of the first half, Corofin completely took over. Three points from O’Donovan initially closed the gap and the visitors pushed on with Gary Sice’s 33rd-minute goal and a closing point from Kieran Comer.
That left Ballintubber 1-8 to 1-4 behind at half-time but an early spurt in the second period, which included an initial point from midfielder Michael Hoban and a second goal from O’Connor, got them back on terms.
However, Corofin had a little bit more in the tank and two more points from O’Donovan steered them through to the November 20 decider, which will be played in Kiltoom.
Meanwhile, defending provincial champions St. Brigid’s turned in an excellent second half display to overcome the challenge of Tourlestrane at Markievicz Park, winning 0-16 to 0-10 in the end.
The Sligo outfit led 0-5 to 0-4 at the break in sunny but wet conditions, only for Brigid’s to find an extra few gears with Roscommon ace Senan Kilbride leading the way.
Missing their injured star Eamonn O’Hara, Tourlestrane stayed in the hunt thanks to well-taken points from Diarmuid Dunne and both Brian and Brendan Egan.
But some stunning scores from man-of-the-match Kilbride, who finished with three from play and three from placed balls, saw Brigid’s wrap up the win with little over 10 minutes remaining.
Frankie Dolan showed his class with some excellent long and short range passing and he also weighed in with four points (three frees), and the equally experienced Karol Mannion starred in midfield.
Tourlestrane kept battling right to the final whistle despite having Brian Egan sent-off for his second bookable offence. John Quinn’s late brace reduced the final margin to six points.
This afternoon’s results set up a fascinating final between the last two winners of the Connacht Club Championship, with Corofin chasing their third provincial title in four years.