Photo: Connacht GAA
2014 will go down as a great one for Ballintubber but sadly their year ended in disappointment this afternoon at MacHale Park. Appearing in their first ever Connacht senior club final, the Mayo champions were comprehensively outplayed by Galway champions Corofin, losing on a scoreline of 2-13 to 1-7.
A nine-point losing margin tells its own story and, by the sounds of it, it was a contest that the Tubbermen never really got to grips with at any stage. They trailed by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break but Corofin then added 2-3 to their tally without reply on the resumption and that, effectively, was that. Corofin eased their way to victory from there to clinch their sixth provincial title and their first since 2009.
Once again, my focus this afternoon was on matters closer to home up here in the capital where at Parnell Park St Vincents’ run continued with victory over Garrycastle in the Leinster semi-final. The final scoreline of 3-9 to 1-10 in favour of the reigning Dublin, Leinster and All-Ireland champions would suggest that it was a reasonably straightforward victory for them over the Westmeath champions but this was far from the case. It was instead a match that Vinnies had to win twice.
The Marino lads started the game like an express train and were completely on top for the first twenty minutes or so. Mossy Quinn smashed home a great goal a few minutes after the throw-in and while a number of chances for further goals were spurned Vinnies kept the scoreboard ticking over with some nicely taken points. Eventually they broke through for a second major, this one from Shane Carthy, and at that stage, with the gap at ten points, a real tanking for Garrycastle looked likely.
However, with the evergreen Dessie Dolan (who ended the day with 1-5 to his credit) pulling the strings for them, the Westmeath lads dragged themselves back into the contest and four points on the spin cut the deficit to six points at the break. They kept it up after the restart too, with two further points before Dolan pounced to smash home a cracking goal which cut Vincents’ lead to just a single point. Five minutes later, a Michael Monaghan point levelled the contest.
Vinnies were fairly shellshocked at that stage but it was then that their greater experience really stood to them. Forced to dig deep in a contest that should in honesty have been over at half-time, they found the extra bit of momentum they needed and points from Mossy Quinn (a free) and a super long range score from play by Ger Brennan gave them some vital breathing space.
It was still nervy enough coming down the closing stretch as Garrycastle continued to pour forward but the champions never panicked and eventually they sealed the match with a penalty goal from Mossy Quinn five minutes from time. This came from a move that saw Ruairi Trainor wrestled to the ground by the Garrycastle ‘keeper after he’d rounded him inside the small square and was about to pull the trigger. Vinnies then completed the win with a flowing end-to-end move in injury time, which ended in Mossy Quinn popping over the evening’s final score.
The Marino men will now defend their provincial title in three weeks time, when they face Offaly champions Rhode in the Leinster decider. The winner from that one will then face today’s newly-crowned Connacht champions in the All-Ireland semi-final next February. On today’s evidence, Corofin look set to provide a serious test for whoever advances to meet them at the business end of the club championship early in the New Year.