Tuam Stars manager Tommy Carton insists they have nothing to lose when they face All-Ireland champions Corofin after their outstanding Galway SFC semi-final win over Maigh Cuilinn at Pearse Stadium.
Corofin will aim for their seventh straight Frank Fox Cups when the north Galway derby takes place in two weeks’ time. Maigh Cuilinn thought they were heading for the final when they led by 1-6 to 1-2 at half-time, and then went five points clear in the second half.
But two goals from Jamie Murphy and one from Ben O’Connell turned this tie around in spectacular fashion.
Carton said: “It’s great to be in this situation and into a county final. We have nothing to lose facing the best team in Ireland.”
Maigh Cuilinn had the breeze in the opening half and dominated the opening quarter with midfielder Mark Lydon leading the way.
Lydon scored a brilliant point to put Maigh Cuilinn in front for the first time in the second minute.
Ben O’Connell equalised for Tuam Stars but Maigh Cuilinn scored four of the next five with Lydon, Gareth Bradshaw, Dessie Conneely and Cooke all on target as they went 0-6 to 0-2 in front.
Tuam Stars had to score next and veteran attacker Jamie Murphy came up with the goal after good work by Brian Mannion to leave just a point between the sides with three minutes of regulation-time remaining.
However, Maigh Cuilinn captain Conneely drove in along the end-line and gifted the opportunity for Niall Walsh to fist their crucial goal moments later for a 1-6 to 1-2 interval lead.
Cooke and Conneely pushed Maigh Cuilinn further clear on the resumption but Tuam hit an unanswered 2-5 between the 36th and 50th minutes.
Murphy had the their goal six minutes after half-time. Points followed from Michael Mannion (two), Brian Mannion, Noel Henry and Conor Rhatigan.
And once O’Connell capitalised on a mix-up in the Maigh Cuilinn kick-out for a third goal, there was no way back.
J Murphy (2-1, 0-1 f), B O’Connell (1-2), M Mannion (0-3), N Henry (0-2), B Mannion (0-1 f), C Rhatigan, G O’Donnell (0-1 each).
P Cooke (0-5, 0-5 f), D Conneely (0-4), N Walsh (1-0), M Lydon (0-2), G Bradshaw (0-1).
J Trayers; B Mashengele, A Tierney, B O’Donnell; G O’Donnell, D O’Rourke, A O’Connell; S Kelly, P Collins; C Rhatigan, J Murphy, N Henry; B Mannion, M Mannion, B O’Connell.
R O’Connor for A O’Connell (30), G O’Connell for M Mannion (58).
A Power; T Gilson, M Donoghue, D Lee; A Claffey, D Wynne, G Bradshaw; M Lydon, P Cooke; E Noone, C Bohan, N Mulcahy; P Kelly, N Walsh, D Conneely.
M Patton for Lee (47), B Faherty for Mulcahy (53), E Kenny for Walsh (58), P Lydon for Noone (58), S Cox for Bradshaw (62, black card).