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Sice saves the day for All-Ireland club champions Corofin and sends Galway football final to a replay

The seven-in-a-row bid lives on after Corofin avoided a massive upset at the hands of Tuam Stars.

Gary Sice with his daughter Sadhbh after March's All-Ireland club final.
Gary Sice with his daughter Sadhbh after March's All-Ireland club final.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Corofin 0-15

Tuam Stars 2-9

Declan Rooney reports from Tuam Stadium

GARY SICE KICKED two nerveless frees deep in added-time to rescue Corofin and sent the Galway SFC final to a replay for the second year in-a-row following a cracking decider with Tuam Stars at St Jarlath’s Park.

Tuam looked to be certain winners when Jamie Murphy added to his 53rd-minute penalty with a super point in the 63rd minute, but Corofin held their composure and Sice delivered with the final kick.

There were three major changes for Corofin before throw-in with Kieran Fitzgerald and Daithí Burke missing out, while team captain Micheál Lundy was also left out of the starting 15 at the last minute.

After winning the toss Tuam Stars elected to play with the very strong wind behind them in the first half, and although they led at half time, they probably felt they could have done more having accumulated six wides by the interval.

It took seven minutes for the game’s first score to arrive when Liam Silke split the posts following a typical run from deep to gain possession late on. In the absence of Daithí Burke, Kieran Molloy started at midfield and he almost crept in for a goal a minute later, but the Tuam defence scrambled well and denied him.

A free from Brian Mannion got Stars – record winners of the county title with 24 wins – up and running in the ninth minute and after that point, their game plan seemed to work well. At the back one of the late introductions into the team, Darragh O’Rourke, quenched plenty of Corofin attacks, while on the left flank Brendan Mashengele was busy on the hind and front foot.

ian-burke-with-daragh-orourke-and-brendan-mashengele Ian Burke of Corofin with Tuam Stars' Daragh O'Rourke and Brendan Mashengele. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Corofin claimed a 0-2 to 0-1 lead following a turnover on their right side, which was finished off by Martin Farragher, but two-in-a-row from Noel Henry and Brian Mannion gave Tuam the lead for the first time by the end of the first quarter.

Corofin had their goals chances with Michael Farragher denied on a couple of occasions, but they worked a couple of good scores with Jason Leonard and Molloy on target.

Two points in-a-row from Tuam were followed by their goal four minutes from the break when Paul Collins broke through the middle and exchanged passes with Garry O’Donnell, before he palmed to the net for a 1-5 to 0-4 lead.

But Corofin finished the half strongly and a Leonard free was followed by points from Liam Silke and Michael Farragher to leave Tuam’s half-time lead at the minimum, 1-5 to 0-7.

The arrival of Lundy into the action at half-time was followed by a driving run from Molloy and a score seconds after the restart, but Tuam soon reclaimed and added to their lead thanks to two-in-a-row from Brian Mannion.

The prospect of a first defeat in the county championship since 2012 was the trigger for Corofin to begin to pile on the pressure. They had a great chance to retake the lead following a foul on Leaonrd, but Liam Silke’s penalty crashed clear off the post. Seconds later Silke also had a goal bound shot blocked by the hungry Tuam defence.

kieran-molloy Kieran Molloy. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Leonard’s long-range free gave Corofin some reward though and he added a fine curled point from open play to level the game in the 42nd minute. Sice’s free a minute later put Corofin back in front.

The storm appeared to have been weathered by Corofin at that stage, but seven minutes from time a pull on Brian Mannion resulted in a penalty, which was expertly converted by Jamie Murphy to give Tuam a 2-8 to 0-12 lead.

Corofin sprung Daithí Burke six minutes from the end as they sought to close the two-point deficit and Sice landed a stunning point from the right to put one score between them. Murphy appeared to have won it for Tuam with a lovely curled effort in the third minute of added-time, but Sice’s two frees forced a replay.

Corofin scorers: Jason Leonard 0-4 (2f), Gary Sice 0-4 (3f), Liam Silke 0-2, Michael Farragher 0-2, Kieran Molloy 0-2, Martin Farragher 0-1,

Tuam Stars scorers: Brian Mannion 0-5 (2f), Jamie Murphy 1-1 (1-0 pen), Paul Collins 1-0, Ben O’Connell 0-1, Noel Henry 0-1, Gavan Connell 0-1

Corofin

1. Bernard Power

17. Cathal Silke
5. Ciaran McGrath
2. Ross Mahon

4. Liam Silke
6. Dylan McHugh
7. Conor Cunningham

8. Kieran Molloy
9. Ronan Steede

10. Gary Sice
11. Dylan Wall
12. Jason Leonard

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

Substitutes

15. Micheál Lundy for Mahon (half-time)
3. Daithí Burke for Cunningham (54)
18. Gavin Burke for Wall (58).

Tuam Stars

1. Jonathan Trayers

17. Rory O’Connor
3. Aonghus Tierney
4. Brian O’Donnell

19. Darragh O’Rourke
5. Noel Henry
2. Brendan Mashengele

8. Conor Rhatigan
9. Paul Collins

10. Gary O’Donnell
6. Ben O’Connell
18. Jamie Murphy

13. Brian Mannion
14. Michael Mannion
11. Seamus Kelly

Substitutes

15. Gavan Connell for Henry (46)
22. Cormac McWalter for S Kelly (56).

Referee: Gearóid Ó Conámha.

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About the author:

Declan Rooney

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