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Corofin see-off Kilcoo in extra-time to complete historic All-Ireland three-in-a-row

Conor Cunningham grabbed the all-important goal for the Galway side.

Corofin's Conor Cunningham celebrates scoring the game's only goal.
Corofin's Conor Cunningham celebrates scoring the game's only goal.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Corofin 1-12

Kilcoo 0-7

(after extra-time) 

COROFIN ARE ALL-Ireland champions for the third year in succession, becoming the first ever team in either code to complete the three-peat.

A side known for their attractive attacking football, this was a gritty victory earned against a steely Kilcoo outfit after extra-time.  

No outfit in either code have enjoyed a run of dominance like this Corofin team, who must go down as the greatest club football team of all time.

Kilcoo emptied themselves to force the additional two periods but Corofin rolled with the punches and eventually their class told. Conor Cunningham’s goal – a low finish after Micheal Lundy’s shot bounced back off the post – near the end of the first period effectively sealed the win. 

Having scored just 0-7 over the previous 75-odd minutes, Corofin rattled in 1-4 in the first period of extra-time to take a commanding lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

For the third time in his historic managerial career, Mickey Moran found himself on the losing side on All-Ireland club final day following two previous defeats with Slaughtneil. Kilcoo gave it one hell of an effort and equalised in the 11th minute of stoppage-time at the end of the second-half through Paul Devlin’s nerveless free.

dylan-ward-with-dylan-wall Kilcoo's Dylan Ward competes for a high ball with Corofin's Dylan Wall. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

The final minutes of regular time were shrouded in controversy. Corofin were happy to be cynical and did their best to wind the clock down, which caused the referee to add on a further six minutes stoppage-time on top of the initial five that was announced.

Corofin looked on the cusp of victory until Darryl Branagan was hauled down by Darragh Silke with the final play.

Silke was black carded and Conor Lane moved the placed ball forward at least 10 metres to the disgust of the Corofin support. Once Devlin’s free sailed between the posts Lane sounded the full-time whistle.

The drama continued however as the teams clashed heading down the tunnel. One supporter jumped over the railing to get involved and the Gardai had to intervene to calm the situation.

Whereas Nemo Rangers and Dr Cokes gave Corofin the space to play football in recent All-Ireland finals, Kilcoo rolled out a blanket defence that suffocated their attack for most of the afternoon.

Kilcoo played the game on their terms, forcing Corofin into a scrappy game. This was a clash of styles not dissimilar to Donegal v Dublin in 2011. The difference between Jim McGuinness’s side of nine years ago and Kilcoo was the latter were happy to move the ball through the foot.

Ultimately though, the defending champions had the smarts, guile and fitness to eventually prize Kilcoo open.

aidan-branagan-is-tackled-by-conor-cunningham Kilcoo's Aidan Branagan is tackled by Conor Cunningham of Corofin. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Mickey Moran’s side went defensive from the outside, frequently dropping 15 bodies behind the ball. They tackled ferociously and greatly restricted Corofin’s usual free-wheeling attack. 

Ian Burke, Micheal Lundy and the Farragher brothers were all held scoreless. Ronan Steede, who has enjoyed an excellent campaign, did most of the damage with a three-point haul from midfield.

It took Corofin a long time to get going.

Seven times in the first 11 minutes, Kilcoo turned the ball over. Corofin didn’t even register a shot at the posts until Burke’s wide in the 19th minute. Corofin had a couple of goal chances well-saved by Kilcoo goalkeeper Martin McCourt – one each from Micheal Lundy and Martin Farragher.

They had to wait until the 23rd minute for their first score – Steede’s superb curling effort – which drew a huge reaction from the Galway support.

Kilcoo’s counter-attacking game drew three Paul Devlin scores, two from frees, as they went in 0-3 to 0-2 ahead at the interval.

A booming Steede effort settled the Connacht champions immediately after the restart. By the 35th minute they had already bettered their first-half tally. Then came a big moment in the game, when Dylan Ward received a second yellow for a hit on Dylan Wall, who was forced to leave the action with an injury. 

anthony-morgan-with-dylan-canney Kilcoo's Anthony Morgan with Corofin's Dylan Canney. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Wall had slalomed in for a fine score minutes earlier and a brace of Sice frees sent Corofin two in front. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Kilcoo moved within a point after 65 minutes through scores from Conor Laverty and Darryl Branagan. 

Michael Farragher received his marching orders – also on a second yellow – before Kilcoo forced extra-time through Devlin.

From that point, Corofin took control and powered home.

Scorers for Corofin: Ronan Steede and Gary Sice (0-3f) 0-3 each, Conor Cunningham 1-0, Jason Leonard (0-1f) 0-2, Cathal Silke,, Liam Silke, Dylan Wall and Dylan Canney 0-1 each. 

Scorers for Kilcoo: Paul Devlin 0-5 (0-3f), Darryl Branagan and Conor Laverty 0-1 each. 

Corofin

1. Bernard Power

2. Cathal Silke
3. Kieran Fitzgerald
4. Liam Silke

7. Dylan Wall
5. Kieran Molloy
23. Colin Brady

8.  Daithí Burke
9. Ronan Steede

15. Micheál Lundy (captain)
10. Gary Sice
12. Jason Leonard

11. Michael Farragher
13. Ian Burke
14. Martin Farragher

Subs

6. Conor Cunningham for Wall (35)
17. Dylan McHugh for Molloy (48)
20. Gavin Burke for Brady (57)
18. Ciaran McGrath for Cathal Silke (57)
24. Dylan Canney for Burke (68)
13. Burke (back to 15 players for ET)
25. Conor Newell for Lundy (76)
5. Molloy for Martin Farragher (76)
29. Ross Mahon for Liam Silke (77)

Kilcoo

1. Martin McCourt

3. Ryan McEvoy
2. Niall Branagan
6. Aaron Branagan

4. Niall McEvoy

10. Dylan Ward
7. Daryl Branagan
5. Eugene Branagan

8. Aaron Morgan
9. Aidan Branagan

12. Ryan Johnston
13. Shealan Johnston
11. Paul Devlin

14. Jerome Johnston
15. Conor Laverty

Subs

24. Justin Clarke for Ryan Johnston (50)
30. Anthony Morgan for Aidan Branagan (57)
9. Aidan Branagan (back to 15 players for ET)
12. Ryan Johnston for McEvoy (70)
22. Felkim McGreevy for Morgan (70)
23. Paul Greenan for Darryl Branagan (77)

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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