There has been plenty of uncertainty and upheaval in Galway GAA in recent months, but when it comes to Corofin some things never change. They needed a replay for the second year in a row, but for the first time in their history Corofin won their seventh county senior title in a row.
Like in their drawn game, Tuam Stars dominated their opponents for extended periods, but once Kevin O’Brien’s side sorted out their uncharacteristic poor shooting they ran out convincing winners. Tuam led by a point at half-time and by two when Jamie Murphy found the target after the restart, but Corofin scored five points without reply in a 20-minute spell to take the win.
There were ten Corofin wides and another ten missed opportunities, but the only relevant statistic was the three-point win that their supporters celebrated with gusto. Their drive for three All-Ireland championships in a row remains on track.
“The Galway championship is really tough. We have had some really tough battles over the last few years and the lads really know each other,” said O’Brien, who’s side face Ballintubber in next weekend’s Connacht semi-final.
“It’s hard to draw breath but every ball we won was fought for. Tuam asked a lot of questions of us and there was a stage in that second half when they went two points up but our fellas really turned it on. They worked until the end and massive credit to them.”
For three quarters of an hour this was a tight affair. Twenty seconds in Jason Leonard gave Corofin the lead, but when Michael Farragher doubled that lead four minutes later, Tuam Stars responded expertly with three points back-to-back from Murphy, Gary O’Donnell and Brian Mannion.
The return of Kieran Fitzgerald and Daithí Burke was a boost to the Corofin defence, while Kieran Molloy showed touches of class operating at midfield once again.
But it was Tuam who bossed the second quarter and Daragh O’Rourke and Brian Mannion gave them a deserved 0-5 to 0-4 interval lead.
Playing against the wind would prove tough for Tuam after the break, but they still led in the 41st minute when Ben O’Connell’s clever pick up and point gave them the edge. They didn’t sore again until the fourth minute of added-time though and by that stage Corofin had the win in the bag. Two Sice frees gave them the lead, while their excellent midfield duo Ronan Steede and Molloy finished off the job.
“To do what we have done this year and get to the county final, it is a pity we didn’t win it,” said Tuam manager Tommy Carton.
“I am very proud of our lads, they put up a great fight. But the only thing it does show for us is the future, for next year. We can build on this defeat.” Scorers for Corofin: J Leonard 0-3 (0-1f), G Sice 0-3 (0-3f), Martin Farragher 0-2, Michael Farragher 0-1, R Steede 0-1, K Molloy 0-1 Scorers for Tuam Stars: J Murphy 0-3 (0-2f), B Mannion 0-2 (0-1f), G O’Donnell 0-1, D O’Rourke 0-1, B O’Connell 0-1.
COROFIN: B Power; D Wall, R Mahon, K Fitzgerald; D Burke, D McHugh, L Silke; K Molloy, R Steede; M Lundy, Michael Farragher, J Leonard; G Sice, Martin Farragher, I Burke.
Subs: C Brady for McHugh (40 mins), D Silke for Lundy (42), G Burke for Mahon (54), C Cunningham for D Burke (60+2), D Canney for Martin Farragher (60+3).
TUAM STARS: J Trayers; R O’Connor, B O’Donnell, B Mashengele; G O’Donnell, A Tierney, D O’Rourke; C Rhatigan, P Collins (c); N Henry, J Murphy, S Kelly; B Mannion, M Mannion, B O’Connell.
Subs: G Connell for M Mannion (47 mins), C McWalter for Henry (54), A O’Connell for Mashengele (60).
Referee: Noel Dempsey.