Salthil/Knocknacarra 0-12 Tuam Stars 0-07
Salthill/Knocknacarra captain Finian Hanley knows that, in the immediate aftermath of their deserved Galway SFC success, in very wet and difficult conditions in front of 4,822 at Pearse Stadium yesterday, the focus will now switch to having a serious crack at a third Connacht title.
“We might start looking at that in a week or so but the extent of our ambition up to now was to get to and win a county title,” said the full-back, who also skippered Galway this year.
The key to victory yesterday lay in the display of his county colleague Sean Armstrong who defied the atrocious underfoot conditions to score as much on his own as Tuam Stars managed over the hour.
Armstrong has had to put in enormous hours of work to combat persistent hamstring injuries but it all came good for him yesterday in a masterful display which included five pointed frees and two superb efforts from play.
Armstrong mastered the wet and difficult conditions and his display was enough to see off a Tuam Stars side who may be the most prolific winners of the title but who are without a crown since 1994.
Salthill pulled away in the closing minutes of a game where the sides were level six times. Tuam Stars just had no answer as the 2006 All-Ireland club champions fired over five points without reply in the closing 10 minutes. The sides were deadlocked four times in a foul-ridden opening half — they each got a dozen frees — and they turned around level, at 0-5 each.
Shane Curtin gave Tuam, the 25-time champions, great hope with some excellent points in the opening half but, they were unable to build a lead with the wind behind them.
Brian Conlon and Tomas Burke hit crucial scores for Salthill/Knocknacarra, whose strong support running made a passing game possible in the dreadful conditions.
Wing-back Donal Marley went forward for a Tuam Stars point but he was the only player other than Curtin to find the range in the opening half. The Salthill defence was superb in that period with Cian Begley, Hanley and Derek O’Flaherty outstanding as they closed down the Tuam attack.
Former Galway hurler Alan Kerins was narrowly off target with a goal attempt but Armstrong kept his footing to land a couple of frees.
The sides twice exchanged points in the opening 20 minutes of the second half with Tuam full-forward Shane Gaffney wide with a good goal chance after 36 minutes.
Jamie Murphy blasted the equaliser with 10 minutes left when his stinging effort was tipped over the bar by Cormac Connolly.
But then Salthill/Knocknacarra took control.
Full-forward Seamie Crowe landed a superb point from the left wing to put them into a lead they never looked like surrendering and Armstrong doubled the lead with an awesome point from play on the right.
They closed out the game in style, with Armstrong pointing a 45 to put a goal between them before Crowe, a former Wolves soccer player, hit the insurance score in the final minute.
It was left to Armstrong to put the gloss on a fine win when he soloed through for his seventh point in the closing seconds and when the celebrations die down at the seaside club, they will quickly turn their attentions to a Connacht semi-final meeting against either St Brigid’s of Roscommon or Leitrim winners Melvin Gaels on November 11.
Scorers for Salthill/Knocknacarra: S Armstrong 0-7, 5fs, S Crowe 0-3, 2fs, B Conlon 0-1, T Burke 0-1.
Tuam Stars: S Curtin 0-4, 3fs, D Marley 0-1, J Murphy 0-1, JR Bodkin 0-1.
SALTHILL/KNOCKNACARRA: C Connolly; C Begley, F Hanley, C Halloran; K Conlon, G Canavan, D O’Flaherty; D Tierney, C Healy; A Kerins, S Armstrong, T Burke; G Cox, S Crowe, B Conlon.
Subs: R McTiernan for K Conlon, 39; S Gavin for Canavan, 52; B Malone for Burke, 60; E O’Mahoney for Crowe, 60.
TUAM STARS: J Trayers; D O’Rourke, I McGough, A Tierney; T Costello, G O’Donnell, D Marley; D Connern, P Doherty; S Curtin, C Doherty, N Quinn; J Murphy, N Henry, JR Bodkin.
Subs: P Collins for Henry, 47; B Devaney for P Doherty, 56.
Referee: B Kinneavy.
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