AIB Connacht Club SFC: Corofin and Peares advance
AIB Connacht Club SFC Semi-Finals
COROFIN (GALWAY) 1-10 BALLINTUBBER (MAYO) 0-11
PADRAIG PEARSES (ROSCOMMON) 2-10 TIR CHONAILL GAELS (LONDON) 0-8
By Daragh Small at Tuam Stadium
Corofin are just 60 minutes away from a fourth-straight Connacht SFC title after victory over Ballintubber.
The reigning All-Ireland champions will face Padraig Pearses in the decider on 24 November, after they beat Tír Chonaill Gaels.
Kevin O’Brien’s men will be hard to beat in the final after Liam Silke’s goal was crucial at Tuam Stadium. It prevented a comeback from a resilient Ballintubber.
Corofin were 0-5 to 0-4 in front at half-time after Jason Leonard landed a late free to give them the lead.
The seven-in-a-row Galway champions hit their stride early with points from Michael Farragher and Kieran Molloy. Diarmuid O’Connor finally landed Ballintubber’s opening point in the 12th minute.
Martin Farragher scored Corofin’s first point in 12 minutes but Ballintubber were level as Stephen O’Malley and Michael Plunkett answered that.
Corofin got their noses in front again through Liam Silke, and they should have had a goal in the 22nd minute. Liam Silke had time and space to get a shot off but Brendan Walsh saved brilliantly before Molloy missed with the rebound.
Cillian O’Connor knocked over his first point from a free with three minutes of normal time left in the first half.
Corofin took a one-point lead into half-time after Leonard’s last ditch free.
Corofin had the breeze in the second half and it took them three minutes to score their goal.
Liam Silke was completely unmarked, caught the delivery from Michael Farragher and finished low to the net. It was a huge score. Leonard sent over a free and Corofin were out in the clear.
However, Cillian O’Connor scored his third free in the 47th minute and that was followed by points from full-back Brian Murphy and Alan Plunkett.
Only a goal separated the sides and Cillian O’Connor closed the gap further with his fourth free, and then his fifth in the 61st minute.
There were five minutes added and substitute Darragh Silke scored the vital free to send Corofin through.
It was a lot more comfortable for Roscommon champions Padraig Pearses in their double-scores victory over Tír Chonaill Gaels at McGovern Park in Ruislip.
Padraig Pearses were already in control at half-time when they took a big 1-6 to 0-2 lead into the break. Hubert Darcy had found the net shortly before the interval.
Paul Carey scored in the opening minute to give the visitors the lead. David Murray, Lorcan Daly and Niall Daly built on that and Padraig Pearses were 0-4 to 0-0 in front after a quarter-of-an-hour.
Darcy fisted a point and then he finished to the net to put his team clear before half-time.
Tír Chonaill Gaels tried to launch an unlikely comeback on the restart but that was thwarted when Conor Payne scored the second Padraig Pearses goal in the 42nd minute.
Scorers for Corofin: Jason Leonard 0-4 (4fs), Liam Silke 1-0, Martin Farragher 0-2, Michael Farragher 0-1, Kieran Molloy 0-1, Liam Silke 0-1, Darragh Silke 0-1 (f).
Scorers for Ballintubber: Cillian O’Connor 0-5 (5fs), Brian Murphy 0-1, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1, Stephen O’Malley 0-1, Michael Plunkett 0-1, Ciaran Gavin 0-1 (f), Alan Plunkett 0-1.
COROFIN: Bernard Power; Cathal Silke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke; Dylan McHugh, Dylan Wall, Daithí Burke; Kieran Molloy, Ronan Steede; Gary Sice, Michael Farragher, Jason Leonard; Micheal Lundy, Martin Farragher, Ian Burke.
Subs: Colin Brady for McHugh (46), Darragh Silke for Lundy (52), Gavin Burke for Sice (59), Conor Cunningham for Wall (60), Ciaran McGrath for Fitzgerald (60+5).
BALLINTUBBER: Brendan Walsh; Brian Murphy, Gary Loftus, Myles Kelly; Damien Coleman, Michael Plunkett, Ruaidhri O’Connor; Jason Gibbons, Diarmuid O’Connor; Ciaran Gavin, Alan Dillon, Bryan Walsh; Alan Plunkett, Cillian O’Connor, Stephen O’Malley.
Subs: Keelan McDonnell for Bryan Walsh (52), Padraig O’Connor for Gavin (52), Joe Geraghty for Kelly (55).
REFEREE: Eamonn O’Grady (Leitrim).