Corofin masterclass tears Nemo apart
COROFIN came to Croke Park for their previous two AIB All-Ireland club football finals and won in some style but they could never have visualised a performance like this against the most storied club of them all to deliver a third title.
At times on a bitterly cold Croke Park day, they played textbook football, switching the play in mesmerising fashion to create openings that left Nemo Rangers, winners of seven titles, stunned and deflated from a very early stage.
Not since Nemo Rangers themselves hammered Mayo’s Garrymore in the 1982 final has there been a margin of victory like it; recent market leaders such as Crossmaglen Rangers and St Vincent’s have not even got up to the levels that Corofin found, especially in the first half when they faced into a strong wind.
A four to five-point interval deficit in the conditions would have been a decent launchpad for any second-half surge but Corofin quickly ditched that theory with their sublime movement and approach work off every attack leaving the conquerors of both last year’s finalists, Dr Crokes and Slaughtneil, chasing shadows.
Having shown substance to beat Moorefield with 14 men the last day, this was all about style on the biggest stage of all.
With Daithí Burke restored to the team they dominated midfield as Michael Farragher dropped in as an extra midfielder and dictated matters with his fielding and long-range passing.
They knocked the ball about for fun in those opening exchanges, with Gary Sice always prominent, first popping a point and then driving low from about 20 metres past Nemo goalkeeper Micheal Aodh Martin for a four-point lead after just seven minutes.
Just about everything they touched turned to gold. Dylan Wall picked up Paul Kerrigan and restricted him to just a point while scoring two himself.
Ian Burke was the last Corofin starting forward to register a score but his fingerprints were on all their most productive moves, with his soft hands and deft passing a real problem for Nemo.
He was pivotal in the build-up to the Galway champions’ second goal on 21 minutes at a stage when Corofin were already 1-6 to 0-1 clear.
Martin Farragher gave the final delivery to brother Michael and his deft finish was worthy of the sequence of passes that had created the opening in the first place. With the lead out to 11 and wind advantage in the second half to come, the game was effectively over as Nemo heads hung.
For Martin Farragher it was personal triumph. Wrongly sent off in the first minute of that semi-final against Moorefield in February, he had the red card rescinded to clear him to play and delivered with six points from play and so many assists from full-forward.
“I just can’t thank the lads for giving me the chance to come and play here,” he said afterwards.
By the break, Corofin were 2-9 to 0-5 clear, Luke Connolly offering the best resistance, though Liam Silke’s deployment on him was still a success for Corofin.
They briefly lifted their foot from the pedal early in the second half but respite for Nemo was short-lived. Tomás Ó Sé’s tour de force in the semi-final win over Slaughtneil couldn’t be repeated and by the 38th minute the Kerry veteran, who had played for An Ghaeltacht in the 2004 final, was one of three players Nemo had replaced.
Corofin resumed their spellbinding play and Martin Farragher’s 46th-minute point reflected everything about them with Wall, Ian Burke and Michael Farragher all interacting superbly to set him up for a 2-14 to 0-7 lead.
“It’s very satisfying. This group of players have delivered so much over the last few years, we asked them coming to Croke Park could they deliver a performance. I think they did that in style,” said Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien.
“We have come here three times now and all credit to the club we have won each time playing super football,” said O’Brien of the previous wins against Erin’s Isle in 1998 and Slaughtneill three years ago which they won by five and 10 points respectively.
“Moving the ball at pace and showing what we are about, it’s something we try and do all the time so to do it on the greatest stage is fantastic.”
Scorers — Corofin: G Sice 1-4 (0-2fs), Martin Farragher 0-6, Michael Farragher 1-1, I Burke, D Burke, D Wall 0-2 each, M Lundy, J Leonard all 0-1 each. Nemo Rangers:
L Connolly 0-6 (4fs), P Gumley, C O’Shea, J Donovan, P Kerrigan all 0-1 each.
Corofin: B Power; C Silke, L Silke, K Fitzgerald; C McGrath, D Wall, K Molloy; D Burke, R Steede; M Lundy, G Sice, J Leonard; I Burke, Martin Farragher, Michael Farragher. Subs: C Cunningham for Molloy (48), C Brady for Lundy (48), B O’Donovan for Leonard (55), D McHugh for C Silke (55), C Brady for D Burke (59), D Canney for Martin Farragher (61).
Nemo Rangers: M A Martin; K O’Donovan, A O’Reilly, A Cronin; T Ó Sé, S Cronin, K Fulignati; A O’Donovan, J Horgan; B O’Driscoll, P Kerrigan, C O’Brien; P Gumley, L Connolly, C Dalton. Subs: J Donovan for Ó Sé (38), M Dorgan for Horgan (38), C Horgan for Gumley (38), C Kiely for Dalton (48), C O’Shea for Fulignati (52).
Referee: D Gough (Meath)
Corofin’s Kieran Molloy and Nemo’s Kevin O’Donovan in action yesterday