Corofin stay calm to land three-in-a-row
Corofin 2-10 Ballintubber 1-9
Corofin kept their composure after a difficult first half to land their first ever Connacht senior club football three-in-a-row in Castlebar.
It required all their craft and experience, on top of the introduction of Allstar Ian Burke, to steer them home against Mayo champions Ballintubber.
Burke sat out the opening half because of a rib injury picked up in the Galway Championship and when they needed him, seven minutes into the second half, he delivered, nicking a goal with his first touch and adding a point soon afterwards.
Burke's touch helped to swing momentum Corofin's way but it was building anyway after a bright start to the second half that saw them wipe out Ballintubber's three-point (1-5 to 1-2) interval lead within six minutes.
Ballintubber had started well and profited from the midfield dominance of Jason Gibbons and Diarmuid O'Connor.
They led by 0-4 to 0-2 when Michael Lundy struck for a goal after a rare opening presented itself on 25 minutes. But Ballintubber responded quickly with a goal of their own, courtesy of James Finnerty.
Burke's goal came off a great kick-out from Bernard Power who found space behind the Ballintubber cover.
Ballintubber closed to within a point at one stage but Corofin's 'man of the match' Kieran Molloy was among the scorers as they pushed the lead back out to six by the 51st minute.
Six-time Connacht title winner Kieran Fitzgerald acknowledged they had their "knuckles wrapped" at the break before responding.
"We should have coped with it better in the first half because it is nothing new to us. In fairness, we went through a few things at half-time again and it went from there," he said.
"You're a scalp there to be taken. You see there in the first half, if we don't match their intensity and start doing stupid things, we're there to be taken as much as any other team. There is nothing mysterious about Corofin, it's just hard work and move the ball quickly. When we're not at that level we can be beaten by anyone really."
Scorers - Corofin: I Burke 1-1, G Sice 0-3 (3fs), M Lundy 1-0, J Leonard, L Silke, Michael Farragher, Martin Farragher, Colin Brady, K Molloy all 0-1 each.
Ballintubber: C O'Connor 0-4 (2fs), J Finnerty 1-0, A Dillon 0-2, M Plunkett, A Plunkett, J Gibbons all 0-1 each.
Corofin: B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, Michael Farragher, D Wall; D Burke, R Steede; Ciaran Brady, J Leonard, Colin Brady; G Sice, M Lundy, Martin Farragher. Subs: D Silke for Ciaran Brady (28), I Burke for D Silke (37), D McHugh for C Silke (50), C Cunningham for Wall (56), D Canney for Colin Brady (58), B O'Donovan for D Burke (61)
Ballintubber: B Walsh; C Hallinan, G Loftus, R O'Connor; D Coleman, M Plunkett, B Murphy; J Gibbons, D O'Connor; C Galvin, A Plunkett, B Walsh; A Dillon, C O'Connor, J Finnerty. Subs: M Kelly for R O'Connor (47), P O'Connor for Gavin (52), J Geraghty for Plunkett (57)
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)