Saturday 16 December 2017

Lundy propels Corofin back to summit

SLAUGHTNEIL could have had a penalty after four minutes and fluffed one in injury-time. For the near-hour in between, it was a Corofin coronation all the way.

Seventeen years ago, the north Galway stronghold became the first Connacht winners of the AIB All-Ireland club SFC. Groundhog Day has been a long time coming but when it finally recurred, at Croke Park yesterday, they did it in style.

Corofin lorded midfield to a surprising degree and, once they settled, the perpetually buzzing Micheál Lundy and Gary Sice led the forward charge to an emphatic ten-point victory.

Initially at least, maybe favouritism proved an onerous burden because they opened nervously. Christopher Bradley, passed fit despite breaking his collarbone only last month, nailed an early Slaughtneil free from distance. Then Paul Bradley appeared to have his kicking leg caught as he got ready to pull the trigger - but David Coldrick waved play on.

When Chrissy McKaigue fended off the persistent chasing of Lundy to kick an inspirational point, Slaughtneil led by 0-2 to 0-1 and a nip-and-tuck contest beckoned ... but then Lundy, Corofin's semi-final hero against St Vincent's, kicked a trilogy of points in the space of two minutes and the contest had changed, irrevocably.

Sice's high catch and offload teed up Martin Farragher for a 17th minute goal, and even though the same player was denied a second by Antoin McMullan's save in first half injury-time, they still led by 1-8 to 0-3. Slaughtneil never once threatened a comeback, their misery summed up by Cormac O'Doherty's horribly miscued late penalty.

"We always try to play a fast brand of football, simply because the lads have that skill set with them. But to be honest, the thing that satisfies me most is our ability to get back and work hard," said Corofin boss Stephen Rochford.

The former Crossmolina corner-back now becomes the first person to win All-Ireland club SFC titles as player and manager with different clubs. "It makes very little difference from the point of view of it being the first time ever," Rochford insisted. "They're two separate emotions but two that are very, very satisfying."

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