AIB Connacht Club SFC Final
Pádraig Pearses 0-7
Big games at this level are usually decided by big incidents and this Connacht club final in Tuam last Sunday was no different. When the game resumed after the half-time break Pádraig Pearses played their best football of the contest. Young Paul Carey had kicked two mighty points (one a long-rage free) to reduce the margin to just one and the huge Pearses following were on their feet.
Five minutes in, Conor Daly played a lovely pass over the top of the Corofin defence and younger brother Ronan was through on goal. But he blasted wide and a glorious chance had gone a-begging.
Seven minutes later (in the 43rd minute) Corofin attacked with pace and power, Jason Leonard played a sumptuous pass to Ian Burke who in turn set up Liam Silke and the corner back blasted to the Pearses net for a brilliant goal. Less than a minute later another deadly raid from the champions saw Daithi Burke’s fisted effort come back off the crossbar but Martin Farragher was following up to score a point. In the blink of an eye they were four ahead and the writing was on the wall for Pat Flanagan’s men. That was the difference between these two sides.
It was not a great game of football to be honest, and the first half in particular was fractious and niggly with scores at a premium and there was precious little good football to be seen by the huge crowd who were there at this splendid venue.
The second half was far better, and Pearses played some great stuff in the third quarter and carried the game to the champions, which was great to see. But the word panic is not one that Corofin recognise and they knew that a couple of pieces of magic would get them out of the tight corner they were in, and that’s what happened.
Pearses were hemmed into their own half for most of the first period and they only managed two points and both of those were from placed balls. It wasn’t that Corofin were shooting the lights out either, with just two of their five points coming from play. Pearses’ cause was not helped when Niall Carty had to go off for a black card he received after pulling down Kieran Molloy in the 18th minute.
Indeed, Corofin’s Conor Cunningham was also sidelined for a black card offence in the 26th minute. It was a stop-start half littered with frees and was poor quality entertainment.
However, a football match did break out after half-time and Pearses were tremendous on the restart. Paul Carey was on target with two points from long range and when Niall Daly and Ronan Daly kicked two great points by the 40th minute it looked like we were in for a cracking finish.
But Corofin struck for that vital Liam Silke goal and points from Farragher and another from Jason Leonard saw the gap at five with ten minutes to go and Corofin do not lose five point leads in big games, it’s as simple as that.
Shane Carty, Anthony Butler, Niall Daly and Ronan Daly were excellent for a gallant Pearses on the day, but their best performer was young Paul Carey who was marked by no less a player than Kieran Molloy and he gave the Corofin star a torrid time, especially in the second half.
For Corofin, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke, Daithi Burke, Jason Leonard and sub Dylan McHugh were impressive and although it was not a vintage performance, they will still be the team to beat when the All-Ireland series comes around after Christmas.
For Pearses, it has been a marvellous year. Their first ever Roscommon SFC title and a Connacht final appearance against one of the greatest club teams of all time, and they went toe to toe with them and gave them plenty to think about for three quarters of the game. It may have ended in defeat but there was no disgrace losing to this magnificent Corofin outfit.
Corofin: Bernard Power; Cathal Silke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke (1-0); Daithi Burke, Conor Cunningham, Dylan Wall (0-1); Kieran Molloy, Ronan Steede (0-1); Gary Sice (0-2, 2 frees), Michael Farragher (0-2), Jason Leonard (0-3, 1 free); Ian Burke, Martin Farragher, Michael Lundy.
Subs: Dylan McHugh for Cunningham (28, b/c), Darragh Silke for Lundy (44), Colin Brady (0-1) for C Silke (44), Gavin Burke for Wall (56), Dylan Canney for Steede (59) (blood), Ciaran McGrath for Martin Farragher (60), Dean Hynes for Michael Farragher (64).
Pádraig Pearses: Paul Whelan; Shane Carty, Anthony Butler, Mark Richardson; Gavin Downey, Davy Murray, Ronan Daly (0-1); Niall Carty, Conor Daly; Paul Carey (0-3, 2 frees), Lorcan Daly, Niall Daly (0-1); Emmet Kelly (0-1 ’45), Hubert Darcy (0-1, a free), Conor Payne.
Subs: Tom Butler for N Carty (20, b/c), Seanie Fahy for Kelly (53), Alan Duffy for S Carty (54, b/c), Shane Mulvey for L Daly (63), James Kelly for Payne (63).
Referee: Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim)