Tuam Stars manager Tommy Carton is confident his side have shown that All-Ireland champions Corofin are beatable after they needed Gary Sice’s late heroics to force a replay of the Galway SFC final in a cracking game at Tuam Stadium.
Stars were the last team to beat Corofin in the Galway championship - back in 2012 - and when Jamie Murphy scored a penalty seven minutes from time a shock result looked to be a possibility.
Corofin had missed a penalty early in the second-half when Liam Silke rattled the post, but Sice summoned two fearless kicks in fourth and fifth minutes of added-time to send the game to a replay in two weeks’ time.
“Yeah it’s disappointing but we have another bite of the cherry. Our lads did very well, it was a great game of football to watch I’d say,” said Carton.
“The free at the end the two lads went for the ball and I don’t think it was a free but that happens in football. Our lads showed great character and heart. It just shows Corofin are beatable but they are a good team.” This time last year Mountbellew/Moylough forced a second day in the Galway county final, but Corofin came through the replay. Tuam Stars will hope that this wasn’t their only chance of a first county final win since 1994.
Starting without Kieran Fitzgerald thanks to a groin injury, and Daithí Burke and captain Micheál Lundy who are just retiring from injury, Corofin may well be stronger in a fortnight, but Tuam will take huge confidence from this performance too.
From the start they looked confident and only a few early wides denied them, and despite playing into a strong wind Corofin scored the opening score in the seventh minute when Liam Silke split the posts, although a free from Brian Mannion got Stars up and running in the ninth minute.
Corofin claimed a 0-2 to 0-1 lead following a turnover on their right side, which was finished off by Martin Farragher, but two in a row from Noel Henry and Brian Mannion gave Tuam the lead for the first time by the end of the first quarter.
Two points in a row from Tuam were followed by their first goal four minutes from the break when Paul Collins palmed to the net, but Corofin finished the half well to only trail by 1-5 to 0-7 at half-time.
With Brian Mannion in form Tuam maintained their lead, and when Silke’s hit the post with a penalty they seemed destined for victory.
Seven minutes Murphy’s penalty put Tuam 2-8 to 0-12 ahead, and despite a great point to back it up by Mannion, Corofin stayed calm and after Jason Leonard lifted them at a cricial stage with two quick points, Sice’s two frees forced a replay.
“We dug deep there at the end and in fairness to Gary he kicked the last two scores. We’re happy to be there again for the next day,” said Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien.
“The penalty we missed and then they scored their penalty, that’s a big swing of scores. We had to push on then to equalise and after that you’re always open to the counter attack.
“We’re happy to be there and it’s great to have another crack at it.”
J Leonard (0-4, (2 frees); G Sice (0-4, 3 frees); Michael Farragher, L Silke, K Molloy (0-2 each); Martin Farragher (0-1).
B Mannion (0-5, 2 frees); J Murphy (1-1, 1-0 pen); P Collins (1-0); N Henry, B O’Connell, G Connell (0-1 each).
B Power; C Cunningham, C Silke, C McGrath; R Mahon, L Silke, D McHugh; K Molloy, R Steede; G Sice, D Wall, J Leonard ; Martin Farragher, Michael Farragher, I Burke.
M Lundy for Mahon (HT), D Burke for Cunningham (53), G Burke for Wall (59).
J Trayers; R O’Connor, A Tierney, B O’Donnell; G O’Donnell, D O’Rourke, B Mashengele; C Rhatigan, P Collins; N Henry, J Murphy, S Kelly; B Mannion, M Mannion, B O’Connell.
G Connell for Henry (48), C McWalter for Kelly (56).