Galway’s footballing purists lamented the state of the game after this replayed county final at Pearse Stadium, but with their 20th title secured Corofin couldn’t care less about entertainment value.
The victors were forced into trench warfare with Mountbellew/Moylough and their super defensive tactics, but after struggling against them in the drawn game, Corofin’s keep-ball plan worked a treat as they took their chances when they came their way.
With all 15 players crammed inside their own 45-metre line Mountbellew/Moylough made the All-Ireland champions struggle to carve out chances, but this time round only two wides blighted the Corofin ledger.
“It was all about the win,” said manager Kevin O’Brien, whose side were not afraid to flood their defence either.
“The way that Mountbellew/Moylough set up it’s hard to get scores and they caught us on the break a few times.
“Our lads are so used to playing going forward as quick as they possibly can. It was quite the change in attitude in the last two games.
“We adapted very well to their style and we got some good scores in the second half. Once we went ahead it was an easier game to control.”
Unlike last week Corofin claimed the lead early on and never lost it — Dylan Wall’s third-minute goal paved the way to victory for the champions.
Mountbellew/Moylough led by a point after Michael Daly curled over a brilliant effort from the right, but once Wall ran onto Liam Silke’s pass and hit the net it was always going to be tricky for the underdogs.
Daly’s second score closed that gap to one point by the sixth minute but that was as close as they got.
Corofin kicked four in a row to lead by 1-4 to 0-3 at half-time, and Mountbellew/Moylough’s next score didn’t materialise for another 36 minutes when Eoin Finnerty scored with the last kick of the game.
Just before that final score the game had descended into a niggly affair, with both sides involved in petty fouling while off the ball antics were rife.
Both Barry McHugh and Kieran Fitzgerald were yellow carded twice during their on-going duel and sent off in added-time, while Mountbellew/Moylough’s Noel McDonagh was shown a straight red following a clash with Micheál Lundy.
On the occasion of his record 13th Galway senior winner’s medal Fitzgerald saw red for the first time in his career and his manager O’Brien praised his influence on the team.
“Listen, he’s an absolute gentleman, it’s a credit to be in the same dressing room as him. He’s a role model and probably the fittest player we have at 38 years of age. He is probably still one of the best full-backs in Galway, particularly in club football. He’s outstanding, he’s first to training every night and is a role model to everyone inside the club and inside it as well.”
After wrapping up this replayed win Corofin now face Roscommon winners Clann na nGael in next Sunday’s Connacht semi-final, which will be their fourth weekend in a row for championship action. One thing’s for sure, it cannot be as dour as these two Galway finals.
Scorers for Corofin: G Sice 0-4 (3fs), D Wall 1-0, L Silke, Colin Brady, R Steede, Michael Farragher 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mountbellew-Moylough: M Daly 0-2, E Finnerty 0-2, B McHugh 0-1 (1f).
COROFIN: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, D McHugh, D Wall; D Burke, R Steede; J Leonard, M Lundy, Colin Brady; G Sice, Michael Farragher, Martin Farragher.
Subs for Corofin: C Cunningham for C Silke (49), D Canney for Martin Farragher (57), Ciaran Brady for D Burke (60+4), D Silke for Leonard (60+4), B O’Donovan for Molloy (60+5).
MOUNTBELLEW-MOYLOUGH: D Boyle; M Mannion, J Daly, N McDonagh; C Murray, G Sweeney, G Donahue; M Daly, M Barrett; S Boyle, P Donnellan, A Barrett; C Mannion, B McHugh, E Finnerty.
Subs for Mountbellew/Moylough: L Donnellan for A Barrett (HT), C Ryan for Mannion (47), A Barrett for Boyle (54), B Mannion for L Donnellan (60+4).
Referee: Tomas Ó Fatharta (An Spideal).