Connacht Semi Final 2019

November 10th 2019
Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Corofin 1-10 Ballintubber 0-11
Yet another Connacht campaign has come to an end at the hands of the all-conquering Corofin. In a bitterly cold Tuam Stadium, the Galway kingpins proved once again why they are the All-Ireland champions as they refused to be ground down by our Seniors.
No one Corofin player tipped the balance on this occasion, but the class, skills, athleticism, and experience they displayed collectively meant they never looked like losing.
Once again, the Red and White could not be faulted for effort and left absolutely everything out on the field. Our lads threw everything at them during this intense and physical encounter and managed a late rally, but Corofin managed to hold on. Both teams defended in large numbers, were evenly matched at midfield where Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O’Connor put up a huge battle.
Just like last year, it was a Corofin goal early in the second half which proved to be the game's critical score. Barely two minutes had passed in the second half when Micháel Lundy appeared to over-carry the ball before launching it into corner-back Liam Silke who caught it in space before finishing past Brendan Walsh. Having lead 0-5 0-4 at half-time, this goal put the Galway men into a commanding position.
Wing-forward Jason Leonard was lethal on the frees and converted three crucial kicks from the ground in the second half. When full-forward Martin Farragher kicked his second point of the afternoon, Corofin were six points in front and look as if they would pull away. However, our lads dug even deeper.
The Red and White fought like hungry wolves for every ball and persevered to grind out five successive scores in the final twenty minutes. Points from play from Brian Murphy and Alan Plunkett, plus three Cillian O’Connor frees brought us back to within a point of Corofin.
With the game in injury time, we went in search of a leveller. We won Bernard Power’s next kick-out but were eventually turned over on the end line. The All-Ireland champions got the ball up the field and eventually won a free, which substitute Darragh Silke dispatched shortly before the full-time whistle.
It was obvious early on that this wasn’t going to be a shoot-out. Both teams defended and attacked in large numbers, meaning scores were hard to come by. Although the game was played at a break-neck speed, the early exchanges were very tit-for-tat. Despite the low scoring, tough tackles were given and taken and the game saw its fair share of yellow cards.
Corofin landed the opening two points through Michael Farragher and Kieran Molloy. Ballintubber eventually got off the mark after ten minutes when a shot from Diarmuid O’Connor went over the bar before bouncing off the top of the net.
We made amends for the concession of the two earlier scores as our backs kept Micháel Lundy and Ian Burke while Martin Farragher wouldn’t score until the second half.
Neat scores from Stephen O’Malley and Michael Plunkett levelled the game before Corofin’s attacking corner-back Liam Silke pointed to nudge the Galway men back in front.
They had a guilt-edge goal chance stopped when Silke drove through before forcing a fine save from Brendan Walsh. Amidst a scramble, the ball eventually trickled to Kieran Molloy who trickled his shot wide.
We levelled once more through a well-taken Cillian O’Connor free from the right-hand side, but a placed ball from Jason Leonard saw the All-Ireland champions lead 0-5 0-4 at the break.
Just as Ian Burke had done last year, the hammer blow was dealt by Liam Silke when the Galway panellist landed the game’s only goal shortly after half-time.
Jason Leonard cancelled out frees from Ciaran Gavin and Cillian O’Connor with three superbly-taken dead balls to push Corofin five ahead.
Almost through sheer force of will alone, we pointed five times in a row to bring the game back to within a point. However, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Darragh Silke’s clincher in injury time sent Corofin into the Connacht Final, once more cementing their legacy as one of the greatest club teams ever to play the game.
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Brendan Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (3)Brian Murphy (0-1) (4)Ruaidhri O’Connor (5)Damien Coleman (6)Michael Plunkett (0-1) (7)Myles Kelly (8)Jason Gibbons (9)Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1) (10)Ciarán Gavin (0-1, 1f) (11)Cillian O’Connor (0-5, 5f) (12)Bryan Walsh (13)Alan Plunkett (0-1) (14)Alan Dillon (15)Stephen O’Malley (0-1)
Substitutions used: Keelan McDonnell for Alan Plunkett, Padraig O’Connor for Ciarán Gavin, Joe Geraghty for Myles Kelly
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