November 25th Elverys McHale Park
Connacht Senior Club Football Championship Final
As Reported by Oisin McGovern
Ballintubber 1-9 Corofin 2-10
The handles of the Shane McGettigan Cup were never within closer reach than they were today, but in the end it was the almighty Corofin that edged this one out today with a superior second half performance. Just as he did in 2014, it was 2018 All-Star Ian Burke that broke our hearts again today after being introduced in the second half. His haul of 1-1 with only three touches of the ball made up the four-point winning margin in the end, as his team closed out the contest in the final fifteen minutes.
A Connacht Senior Club title has eluded us once again, but our Seniors died with their boots on in McHale Park today with a courageous display against what will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest club sides of all time.
Indeed, the All-Ireland champions were pushed right to the pin of their collars for much of the first half. Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O’Connor ruled the skies at midfield as the North Galway kingpins started on the back foot somewhat.
It was the household names of Cillian O’Connor and Alan Dillon which struck over the opening two points before Corofin’s Colin Brady pointed their first. We then found our-selves three-points in front when Cillian O’Connor and Jason Gibbons pointed from distance. With Kevin Johnson’s men putting huge pressure on the Corofin restarts, the North Galway side struggled to win possession from their own kickouts.
In containing a formidable Corofin attack, we often massed fourteen our fifteen behind the ball as the game remained scoreless for a ten-minute period. Martin Farragher then kicked a point before Galway senior panellist Michael Lundy wove his way around our defence before crashing a shot into the roof of Brendan Walsh’s net.
Alan Plunkett levelled the game with a point before Brian Walsh fed Jamsie Finnerty who fired home a low shot off the post and into the net from a tight angle. This green flag from the young man from Ballintubber left us leading 1-5 to 1-2 at the break, as Connacht Senior Football glory began to appear on the horizon.
However, having performed well beneath themselves in the first half, Corofin upped their game substantially at the restart. Points from their half forward line of Gary Sice, Mike Farragher and Jason Leonard brought the sides level within only six minutes.
The All-Ireland champions then dealt us a severe body blow when Martin Farragher assisted Ian Burke who shook the net with only his first kick of the game. Scarcely a minute on the field the Galway sharpshooter had now given his side a lead which they stubbornly refused to relinquish.
Two frees from Cillian O’Connor brought us back within a point, but the Galway men had really hit their stride at this point. Burke fisted another score over the bar before his side hit four more unanswered scores.
Alan Dillon and Michael Plunkett hit the last two points of game as injury time loomed, but Corofin held on to claim their fourth Connacht title in five years with four to spare.
In reflection, with a rub of the green in the second half we could have snatched this one, but it simply wasn’t to be. A season which climaxed on a mild October’s evening with our sweetest and hardest-fought County Final victory has come to a close yet again at the hands of one of the finest football teams ever seen west of the river Shannon.
Under the capable stewardship of Sligo native Kevin Johnson, this group has never brought us closer to the summit of Connacht club football as they did today. In spite of today’s defeat, the memories, thrills and spills of the 2018 championship season will undoubtedly recalled on manys a dark winter’s evening for years to come.
Like the sun which sets on 2018 today, a new day will soon dawn and we will rise again. Baile an Tobair Abú!
“Because we’re the Boys from the ‘Tubber until the very end.”
Ballintubber team that lined out: (1)Brendan Walsh (2)Gary Loftus (3)Cathal Hallinan (4)Brian Murphy (5)Damien Coleman (6)Michael Plunkett (0-1) (7)Ruaidhri O’Connor (8)Jason Gibbons (0-1) (9)Diarmuid O’Connor (10)Ciaran Gavin (11)Alan Dillon (0-2) (12)Alan Plunkett (0-1) (13)Brian Walsh (14)Cillian O’Connor (0-4, 2f) (21)Jamsie Finnerty (1-0)
Substitutions used: Myles Kelly for Ruaidhri O’Connor, Padraig O’Connor for Ciaran Gavin, Joe Geraghty for Alan Plunkett