Club footballer of the year steps up to win it for Corofin in the clutch 10 months ago

Club footballer of the year steps up to win it for Corofin in the clutch

Corofin 1-12 Kilcoo 0-7

 Corofin are club football immortals.

After one hell of a scrap with Down champions Kilcoo, Corofin eventually found their groove in extra-time to make history by winning their third All-Ireland club football title in a row.

For an hour, they were curtailed and limited by a plucky Kilcoo side but eventually, the grace and style the Galway side are renowned for came through in extra-time, where they outscored the Down champions by 1-4 to no score.

For the guts of an hour, this was more of a game of chess though, as the two sides attacked and defended in numbers.

At one stage in the first half, Corofin full back Kieran Fitzgerald stood, arms-wide on the Kilcoo end-line begging for the ball. Moments later, his fellow inside back-man Cathal Silke popped one over the bar. After 27 minutes of action, it was only Corofin's second score from play.

The mighty Corofin, scoring only two points from play in their field of dreams over the course of a half an hour. Crazy goings on.

But they were up against a dogged and a rigid machine. 15 Kilcoo players flooded back you see, whenever Corofin got their hands on the ball. A glance down the other end of the field just a few moments later told the full story. Bernard Power, the Corofin goalkeeper, was the only player in his own half. This was all-out attack against a defensive team with a counter-attacking game.

By half-time, the defensive unit were up by one. Both teams stuck to the plan, you always felt Kilcoo would need a goal to win it.

Ronan Steede, the rangy Corofin midfielder having the year of his life kicked a worldie of a score just after the resumption. Corofin roared, he jumped into the air and this was game on.

Kilcoo responded almost immediately through a Paul Delvin free, well earned by Conor Laverty. By that stage, Delvin was still the only Kilcoo player to score in the game.

But the next five minutes would prove decisive. Dylan Ward was given his second yellow card for a high tackle on Dylan Wall and Gary Sice made no mistake from 40 yards.

Corofin's dander was up by this stage and they were beginning to attack with that familiar swagger. Kieran Molloy was getting on the ball more and he was eating the green grass in front of him. Liam Silke too, was bombing on with abandon and freedom.

That usually means trouble for the opposition. Kilcoo, to their credit, battled hard and managed to limit the damage to just another Sice free. But there was no out-ball for the Mourne men, and too often they ran out of ideas and options in attack.

Corofin needed to do more to kill them off though and heading into the final ten minutes with just a three point cushion always looked a dicey fair. And as the crowd roared 'Cill Chua, Cill Chua' their team responded with one hell of a burst.

Conor Laverty athletically poked one over after a kick free before the inspirational Darryl Branagan reduced the arrears to one with a trademark stunner.

From here on in, it was a role reversal of the first half. While Corofin sat back on their one point lead, Kilcoo were given their chance to break past the blanket.

It took them a while, as the game descended into a scene or organised chaos with scraps, hits and fights breaking out all over the place. But they had Corofin where they wanted them. Sitting back and getting involved in things they wouldn't normally. Playing a game alien to them.

Both teams turned cynical for a while. Body checks and blocks were the name of the game.

After all that, almost nine minutes into injury time, Kilcoo got their chance and Paul Delvin stuck it. Chaos turned to madness as the teams made their way to the sanctuary of the dressing rooms.

But 0-7 0-7 was as good as it would get for Kilcoo.

Ronan Steede yet again set the tone for Corofin, booming one over from miles out to get extra-time going. That score seemed to re-invigorate the Galway men as they took off from here. He took on the mantle on so many occasions in this game, when it was in the melting pot.

Scraps and distractions forgotten about. Corofin were back to doing what they do best. Sice slotted another free and sub Dylan Canney sailed a beauty over.

Conor Cunningham got in for a goal and this was game over. Jason Leonard put the icing on the cake and Corofin were home and dry.

The first club ever to do three-in-a-row. Club GAA immortals. In the end, it was well deserved.

Kilcoo

Martin McCourt; Niall Branagan, Aaron Branagan, Ryan McEvoy; Daryl Branagan (0-1), Aidan Branagan, Niall McEvoy; Aaron Morgan, Dylan Ward; Ryan Johnston, Eugene Branagan, Jerome Johnston; Conor Laverty (0-2), Paul Devlin (0-4, 0-3f), Shealan Johnston.

Justin Clarke for Ryan Johnston (50), Ciaran Brady for Aidan Branagan (57)

Corofin

Bernard Power; Kieran Fitzgerald, Cathal Silke (0-1), Liam Silke (0-1); Kieran Molloy, Colin Brady, Dylan Wall (0-1); Daithí Burke, Ronan Steede (0-3); Mike Farragher, Gary Sice (0-3f), Jason Leonard (0-1); Micheál Lundy (0-1), Martin Farragher, Ian Burke.

Conor Cunningham (1-0) for Dylan Wall (inj, 36), Dylan McHugh for Kieran Molloy (47), Gavin Burke for Colin Brady (57), Ciaran McGrath for Cathal Silke (57), Dylan Canney (0-1) for Ian Burke (60), Kieran Molloy for Martin Farragher (75), Ross Mahon for Liam Silke (76)