Connacht kingpins have too much for Dublin title holders
SOMETIMES you've got to take it on the chin. Corofin were considerably better than St Vincent's, in all facets: tackling, ball-winning, movement, foot-passing and execution.
But here's the conundrum: while they were worth every one of their five-point winning margin on Saturday, how would they have fared against Vincent's in their 2014 pomp?
In truth, Dublin's finest were far, far removed from that stellar level in Tullamore. Maybe we shouldn't be overly surprised … they've been on the road for over two years, hadn't lost a championship match since October 2012, and there comes a day when you press the accelerator and nothing happens.
"We were a bit flat," admitted their skipper, Ger Brennan. "Hunger was never a question - we were just beaten by a better squad on the day.
"We were probably only in second and third gear for the 60-70 minutes out on the pitch, but that was down to how Corofin didn't allow us to play football and how they punished us."
Both captain and manager were adamant they hadn't been surprised by the quality of Corofin.
"Sometimes you can have all the best-laid plans," Tommy Conroy mused, while Brenann echoed: "We looked at how they play - but preparing for and doing it are different things."
For much of the hour, St Vincent's had no answer to the elusiveness of Ian Burke (who finished with 0-5, four from play) or the predatory instincts of Martin Farragher (1-2) or the all-round brilliance of Michéal Lundy.
Lundy finished with 0-4 and TG4's Man of the Match bauble. The county star's fingerprints were all over another 1-4 (he was fouled for each of Gary Sice's three frees) while his dangerous cross to Sice was at the genesis of Corofin's squandered first half penalty.
In defence of a labouring Vin's full-back line, they were invariably on the back foot given the early, pinpoint passing to Corofin's inside line. Did the All-Ireland holders do enough to harry the providers out the field? Maybe not. Yet, for the first 36 minutes - at which point they led 1-11 to 1-6 - the slickness of Corofin's link play was the standout feature.
What happened next - 14 barren minutes, during which time Vincent's hit 0-3 while seeing a Ruairí Trainor goal chance blocked by Cathal Silke - will have given the Galway kingpins pause for thought as they prepare for March 17.
However, Stephen Rochford knew that he has a group capable of emulating their trailblazing Corofin forebears of 1998. "I genuinely don't mean this to sound cocky - I'm not surprised," said Rochford, an All-Ireland club winner himself with his native Crossmolina in 2001.
"I felt since I got involved with this group that there's huge talent, there's huge determination."
The other big psychological test came in the second quarter, with Corofin two up, when Gary Delaney's 23rd minute penalty sent Michael Savage the wrong way only to crash against the crossbar. Vincent's went straight down the field for Ciarán Dorney to win a penalty, which Tomás Quinn placed in the same right corner.
When Brendan Egan followed up with the next score, Vincent's - improbably - led by two. Corofin's next kickout veered over the sideline. Panic stations? Martin Farragher's 29th minute goal and Lundy's injury-time point, restoring a two-point cushion, told a different story.
Another 'what if?' scenario arose four minutes after the restart, with the margin out to four, when corner-back Kieran McGrath (who excelled as Quinn's perennial shadow) dived in the small square to save Dorney's goalbound shot. But surely, in doing so, he handled on the ground?
Conroy made light of the penalty-that-never-was, admitting his side would have been "riding our luck", while Rochford said: "With all the bodies, I didn't see it. I think to be honest, when you play the All-Ireland champions and you rattle the crossbar and you rattle the post, you deserve a little bit of luck."
Hard to argue.
AIB CLUB SFC SEMI-FINAL: ST VINCENT'S v COROFIN
COROFIN . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-14
ST VINCENT'S . . . . . . . . . . 1-9
SCORERS - Corofin: I Burke 0-5 (1f), Martin Farragher 1-2, M Lundy 0-4, G Sice 0-3f. St Vincent's: T Quinn 1-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), D Connolly 0-3 (1f), R Trainor 0-2, B Egan, S Carthy, C Dorney 0-1 each.
COROFIN: T Healy; K McGrath, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; A Burke, L Silke, G Sice; G Higgins, R Steede; M Lundy, G Delaney, D Burke; Martin Farragher, Michael Farragher, I Burke. Subs: D Wall for Steede (53), C Cunningham for A Burke (60), J Burke for Martin Farragher (60), K Murphy for Michael Farragher (62).
ST VINCENT'S: M Savage; H Gill, J Curley, M Concarr; Cameron Diamond, G Brennan, B Egan; E Fennell, G Burke; Cormac Diamond, D Connolly, S Carthy; R Trainor, C Dorney, T Quinn. Subs: T Diamond for Cormac Diamond (36), G Murphy for Dorney (41), E Brady for Concarr (55).
WIDES: Corofin 2 (1+1); St Vincent's 6 (2+4)
YELLOW: Corofin 1 (Fitzgerald 24); St Vincent's 0
BLACK: 0. RED: 0
REF: P Hughes (Armagh). ATT: 4,188
MAN OF THE MATCH: Michéal Lundy (Corofin)