Castlebar Mitchels 0-14
Colm Gannon reports from Elverys MacHale Park
COROFIN FINALLY GOT over their Castlebar itch in Elverys MacHale Park in today’s Connacht semi-final.
The sides had met twice in the previous three years, with Castlebar coming out on top in both games.
It took extra time in this one, but Corofin were deserving winners at the end of a hard fought 80 minutes. It was Castlebar Mitchels sixth game in as many weeks and their hectic schedule caught up with them in extra time.
At the end of the hour the game was tied at 0-11 each and Corofin’s freshness saw them over the line. They hit three points to Mitchels one in the first additional period with Ian Burke kicking two points and Jason Leonard adding a free, with Castlebar only able to respond through a Neil Douglas free.
The second half of extra time saw Michael Farragher extend that lead out to three 30 seconds in. Douglas hit back with two points for the home side while Michael Lundy got one for his side to leave just two between them as the game ticked towards injury time.
Castlebar threw everything they had at Castlebar, but couldn’t break through for the goal they needed and with the final play of the game Gary Sice kicked his sides 17th point of the day to send them through to the Connacht final against St Brigid’s in a fortnight.
The Galway champions led by two at the break, having gone four to the good after 18 minutes when Jason Leonard fired a free over the bar from 40 meters out.
Castlebar were unusually wasteful in front of the posts in the first half kicking seven wides over the half hour, with Neil Douglas kicking three frees wide in the opening 21 minutes.
Corofin’s Gary Sice was picked up by Mitchels Paddy Durcan, with the Galway man moving into the full forward line early on as much to cause the Mitchels defence problems and keeping Durcan trapped back in his own full back line and out of the attacking action.
Kieran Molloy and Michael Farragher kicked the opening two scores of the day inside the first five minutes, with a Douglas free nine minutes in closing the gap back to one.
The Galway champions hit the three next scores on the bounce with Sice (free), Ian Burke and Farragher all finding the target.
Mitchels responded with a free from Douglas and a well hit point from Paddy Durcan who finally was able to break downfield and get involved in the attack.
Jason Leonard put three between the sides again with a well taken free just on the half hour, with an injury time Douglas pointed free leaving just two between the sides at the short whistle.
Gary Sice hit the first score of the second half from a free to stretch his sides lead out to three two minutes in, but it was to be their last score of 20 minutes as Mitchels pulled themselves level with scores from Cian Costello and a free and 45’ from Douglas.
In the middle of that run Corofin had the one goal chance of the game, but Rory Byrne pulled off a great save to deny Liam Silke who got on the end of a flowing move.
A Jason Leaonard free edged the Galway side back in front eight mintues from time as the game began to break up and both sides felt the pressure. Douglas kicked a point from play to level it up and with five to go he landed a brilliant free with his bad foot on the touchline 21m out to edge his side in front for the first time in the game.
Hurling All star Dathi Burke tied it up on the scoreboard once more when he was found by a quick free a minute later. Mitchels sub David Stenson showed great composure to edge his side in front again not long after, but Ian Burke who ended up with the man of the match award kicked a great score under pressure and two minutes into injury time
Ronan Steede who had been taken on and off three times at this stage with a blood injury and hit the ball high and hanging from distance, but it just had enough to creep over the bar and looked like it would give Corofin the win.
But Castlebar weren’t done yet and David Stenson once again came good to arrow the ball between the posts and send it to extra time.
Scorers for Corofin: Ian Burke, Jason Leonard (0-2f) 0-4 each, Gary Sice 0-3 (0-3f), Michael Farragher 0-2 (0-1f), Kieran Molloy, Dathai Burke, Ronan Steede, Michael Lundy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Castlebar Mitchels: Neil Douglas 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 45’), David Stenson 0-2, Cian Costello, Paddy Durcan 0-1 each.
1. Bernard Power
2. Cathal Silke
3. Kieran Fitzgerald
4. Liam Silke
5. Kieran Molloy
6. Ciaran McGrath
20. Conor Cunningham
8. Daithi Burke
9. Ronan Steede
10. Gary Sice
11. Dylan Wall
19. Michael Lundy
13. Ian Burke
14. Michael Farragher
15. Jason Leonard
22. Ciaran Brady for R Steede (BS 14’, 26’, 31’)
24. Colin Brady for Ciaran Brady (34)
12. Barry O’Donovan for Colin Brady (54)
27. Ronan Steede for Dylan Wall (58)
7. Alan Burke for C Cunnigham (65)
25. Greg Higgins for R Steede ( BS 65)
1. Rory Byrne
2. Shane Iriwn
3. Ger McDonagh
4. Donie Newcombe
5. Ray O’Malley
6. Eoghan O’Reilly
7. Paddy Durcan
8. Aidan Walsh
9. Barry Moran
10. Fergal Durkan
11. Cian Costello
12. James Durcan
13. Neil Lydon.
14. Neil Douglas
15. Shane Hopkins
24. Johnny Maughan for Shane Irwin (40)
Danny Kirby for Neil Lydon (40)
18. David Stenson for F Durkan (54)
28. David Joyce for J Durcan (61)
20 Calum Kyne for S Hopkins (71)
17. Ronan Burke for E O’Reilly (78)
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