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Corofin players celebrate their victory over Moorefield.
Corofin players celebrate their victory over Moorefield.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

'We were very sore after it' - All-Ireland semi-final record redressed as Corofin push on to Croke Park

Corofin’s win over Moorefield came a year after their loss to Dr Crokes.
Feb 19th 2018, 6:15 PM 5,757 1

THE ELATION FOR Corofin at the final whistle in Tullamore on Saturday didn’t just stem from having emerged as winners after playing for over an hour with 14 men.

The bald statistic of claiming a victory in an All-Ireland semi-final was something they will cherish.

Their dominance at home in Galway is undisputed. Last October’s county final success ensured they have stitched together five titles in a row and takes their tally to eight championship wins in the last decade.

Managing to yield five Connacht titles – including three in the last four campaigns – in the same time frame is also an impressive haul for the north Galway club.

The tricky part for Corofin has been keeping that winning run going when they emerge from Connacht. Before Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final the club’s record stood at two wins from seven outings at that stage.

Their first burst of appearances saw defeats in 1992 and 1996 before glory arrived in 1998 against Dungiven and Corofin went on to lift the All-Ireland final at the expense of Erins Isle.

They contested the last four stage in 2009 and 2010 but were upended by Kilmacud Crokes and St Galls. The losing streak was halted against St Vincent’s in 2015, a second All-Ireland title landing the following month, before the sense of disappointment visited  them once more in the Gaelic Grounds twelve months ago against Dr Crokes.

That sequence of results helped explain why Saturday’s semi-final victory was so sweet. As Moorefield thundered into the game in the closing stages, striking four points in the final quarter as they drew level at 0-6 apiece, the prospect of another semi-final loss must have preyed on Corofin minds.

But they dug out a win courtesy of Liam Silke’s assured finish to the net in the 59th minute after a sweeping team move that was instigated by Michael Farragher’s turnover in midfield.

Gary Sice has seen both sides of All-Ireland club semi-final days. He’s one of four players from the 2009 loss in Mullingar still knocking around – Bernard Power and Kieran Fitzgerald both started on Saturday with Kieran McGrath on the bench – and he was glad to avoid possessing an All-Ireland semi-final record of one win out of five.

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“We’ve lost a few. It felt a bit funny after 30 seconds seeing Martin (Farragher) walking off. But that’s a thick bunch you’re dealing with there. The boys are strong mentally and you could see it again. We drove on and it’s a good one. It’s a really good one.

“There’s another one to go. Crokes were excellent last year. You can’t take away from them. They went on then and won the All-Ireland. That’s the third time that’s happened to us, we’ve lost semi finals and the other team have gone on and won an All Ireland.

“It’s stuck in the craw a bit alright. We were sore. We were very sore after it. They were excellent on the day. We didn’t perform and we weren’t going to let that happen and we showed that.”

Sice kicked 0-5 in Croke Park three years ago when Corofin saw off Derry’s Slaughtneil to win the club’s second All-Ireland title. Victory on St Patrick’s Day this time would lift them into exalted company, joint third on the national roll of honour alongside St Vincent’s and St Finbarr’s.

For Sice it is a welcome prize to chase in 2018 as he focuses solely on club life following retirement last winter from Galway.

“That was a decision I made before Christmas. I’m very happy with it. I had a wonderful time in the Galway jersey at all times.

“It was just time. I’m 33 now and you need to be enjoying it. The mind wasn’t going but the body was starting to tell me to relax a bit. I’m enjoying this now and I will for a while.”

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