Corofin (Galway) 2-15
St Brigid’s (Roscommon) 1-14
John Fallon reports from Tuam Stadium
ALL-STAR HURLING full-back Daithi Burke struck the decisive score as Corofin eventually saw off the brave challenge of St Brigid’s to book a Connacht final spot against Castlebar Mitchels.
Burke, a second-half substitute, blasted to the net just 20 seconds into the second period of extra-time to send reigning Connacht champions into another provincial decider.
Corofin looked good for victory when they led by 1-5 to 0-6 at the break having played against the breeze.
The key score came seven minutes from the break when Ian Burke drilled home a goal into the bottom left corner.
That tied the match at 1-3 to 0-6 and they took a two-point lead into the break when Jason Leonard added a free and one from play.
It undid all the hard work by St Brigid’s who established a two points lead into the opening six minutes thanks to Senan Kilbride and Padraig Kelly.
And when Corofin hauled them back, the Roscommon champions again pulled clear with two more points from Kilbride and a second from Kelly, only for Burke to find the net at the other end and bring the Connacht champions right back into contention.
They doubled that lead in the opening two minutes of the second-half thanks to Colin Brady and Leonard, and when Kilbride pulled back a point for St Brigid’s, Sice tacked on two in a row for Corofin to lead by 1-9 to 0-7 after 37 minutes
St Brigid’s refused to give up and points from Cathal McHugh and Kilbride gave them hope and when Ian Burke and Michael Farragher responded for Corofin, a tight finish was guaranteed when McHugh found the net after a good move to leave it 1-11 to 1-9 with 13 minutes left.
McHugh cut the gap to a point but after Michael Farragher pointed for Corofin, McHugh missed a couple of frees for St Brigid’s but after cutting the margin to the minimum, Kilbride kept his nerve to land an equaliser five minutes into stoppage time from 35 metres to send the game into extra-time.
Corofin led by 1-15 to 1-14 at the interval in extra-time despite playing against the wind.
Padraig Kelly and Jason Leonard swapped points and then St Brigid’s goalkeeper Shane Mannion and Sice did likewise before midfielder Ronan Steede edged Corofin in front at the break with a superb point from the right.
The decisivre score came just 20 seconds into the final period when Burke blasted to the net after being set up by his cousin Ian Burke and there was no way back for St Brigid’s after that.
Scorers for Corofin: Ian Burke 1-2, Jason Leonard 0-4 (0-1f), Gary Sice 0-4 (0-1f), Daithi Burke 1-0, Michael Farragher 0-2, Kieran Molloy 0-1, Colin Brady 0-1, Ronan Steede 0-1.
Scorers for St Brigid’s: Senan Kilbride 0-7 (0-6f), Cathal McHugh 1-3 (0-2f), Padraig Kelly 0-3, Shane Mannion 0-1 (0-1 45).
1. Bernard Power
3. Kieran Fitzgerald
6. Ciaran McGrath
2. Liam Silke
11. Michael Lundy
4. Conor Cunningham
5. Kieran Molloy
8. Michael Farragher
9. Ronan Steede
15. Colin Brady
10. Gary Sice
12. Jason Leonard
7. Dylan Wall
14. Martin Farragher
13. Ian Burke
21. Dylan McHugh for Lundy (47)
26. Daithi Burke for Cunningham (50)
18. Justin Burke for Martin Farragher (59)
17. Ciaran Brady for Colin Brady (62)
20. Barry O’Donovan for K Molloy (70)
15. Colin Brady for Wall (77)
19. Kevin Murphy for Steede (82).
1. Shane Mannion
2. Darragh Sheehy
4. Niall McInerney
7. Johnny Murray
5. Ronan Stack
3. Peter Domican
6. Ian Kilbride
8. Garvan Dolan
9. Eddie Nolan
12. Padraig Kelly
11. Darren Dolan
23. Conor Murray
15. Brian Stack
14. Senan Kilbride
26. Cathal McHugh
19. Darragh Donnelly for C Murray (36)
22. David Cunniffe for D Dolan (41)
10. Eoin Sheehy for Nolan (49)
13. Jack McDonnell for McHugh (69)
20. Niall Grehan for J Murray (70)
26. C McHugh for McDonnell (70)
9. E Nolan for P Kelly (75).
Referee: Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim).