GOATH DOBHAIR were beaten by Galway and Connacht and All-Ireland kingpins Corofin in today’s All-Ireland SFC club semi-final in Carrick-on-Shannon.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-12 Corofin 2-13
By Alan Foley in Carrick-on-Shannon
It’s been an epic journey, with a first Ulster SFC title for a Donegal club since 1976 and has shown the other sides in the county there is a path that can be plotted.
The team from Magheragallon were greeted by a huge roar as they emerged from the tunnel at Pairc Sean MacDiarmada and were consoled on the pitch afterwards.
Today, they were beaten by the better team. One who know the course having run to before.
Gaoth Dobhair had clubman Mícheál Roarty. ‘Roycee’ was one of the four young men tragically killed – alongside friends John Harley, Shaun Harkin and Daniel Scott – in a single-vehicle accident in Gortahork just three weeks ago. A minute’s silence was held in his memory beforehand in front of the 5,100 in attendance.
On the pitch, it was four points in the end. Gaoth Dobhair battled back from five points to just one down on two occasions. In the end, Corofin’s calmness got them through and they won the midfield battle in a match which, peculiarly, saw the second half be almost a repeat of the first.
In Gary Sice, there was a scorer of 1-7 for a team who will now go in search of their fourth All-Ireland title having taken the trophy west of the Shannon in 1998, 2015 and last year.
Gaoth Dobhair and other teams from Donegal are wet behind the ears in comparison.
Having not played competitively since their Ulster SFC final win over Scotstown on the first weekend in December, much was made in the build-up to the contest over which was the best means of preparation after such a long lay-off for Gaoth Dobhair.
Being the same obviously for both teams, after nine minutes it was 0-2 to 0-2, with Dáire Ó Baoill and Cian Mulligan having edged Gaoth Dobhair in front twice, with Gary Sice and Liam Silke levelling for Corofin.
But the tide starred to then there. Eamon Collum missed a relatively simple free in front of the posts. Having been given the chance to eke into a one-point lead, Meryvn O’Donnell’s team were, within five minutes, five points down at 1-4 to 0-2.
Gary Sice goaled on 16 minutes, drilling past Christopher Sweeney after the Gaoth Dobhair netminder had done well to get behind the rasping effort from Kieran Molloy. That made it 1-4 to 0-2. Daithi Burke, the Galway hurler, had added a point previously, as had Sice.
In a match of ebbs and flows, Gaoth Dobhair needed a response and it was Kevin Cassidy who took responsibility, smashing home a rebound following a save from Bernard Power on 18 minutes for a much-needed goal.
The chance had come about following a direct run into opposition territory from Naoise Ó Baoill, who fed Gary McFadden to have a pop at goal only to see the Corofin goalkeeper save before Cassidy gobbled up the rebound.
It all came from a hop-ball on the edge of the Corofin square won by Cassidy after goalkeeper Power was penalised for a short kick-out, with Maurice Deegan, the match referee, having also called Sweeney up for the same infringement moments beforehand.
Jason Leonard and Ian Burke, though, pressed the button to score for Corofin.
Battling well, Gaoth Dobhair pressed on and Odhrán Mac Niallais, captain Niall Friel and another long-ranger from Mulligan took them back to just one down, 1-6 to 1-5.
However, Corofin didn’t wilt and finished the half strongly. A superb second goal on 29 minutes reaffirmed their superiority. Michael Farragher ended a sublime move to plant the ball into the net when he fed off Burke after a long ball in from Gary Sice, who then finished off the first half scoring with a free.
So, after all their exertions to get back, suddenly Gaoth Dobhair found themselves five down once more, 2-7 to 1-5. Looking back, it was the strong finish to the first half that ultimately won the match for Corofin.
Gaoth Dobhair started the second half reasonably well, kicking two out of the first three points with Mac Niallais and Collum scoring wither side of another Sice free. Corofin also lost thee serves of Micheal Lundy to a back card for a foot-trip on Odhrán McFadden-Ferry.
One did, though, get the impression that it would take a goal and Corofin were impenetrable, with Sice restoring the five-point cushion, 2-9 to 1-7.
Three points in succession made Gaoth Dobhair believe again. Cassidy’s brace and Collum meant they were 2-10 to 1-10 behind with seven to play.
The temperature was rising and again, Corofin wouldn’t panic.
Substitute Gavin Burke and Leonard steadied it and even though James Carroll came off the Gaoth Dobhair bench to score twice, Kevin O’Brien’s side swamped possession at midfield in the final stages and Sice completed his fine personal haul to set up another Croke Park date for Corofin.
They’ll be there on St Patrick’s Day. The Goath Dobhair team, as captain Friel said this week, usually gather in Hiudái Beag’s to see the action from Croke Park unfold.
Unlike other years though when they wondered, this time they know they can compete with the best there is and for the majority of the panel time is on their side.
Corofin: Bernard Power; Cathal Silke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke; Dylan Wall, Dylan McHugh, Kieran Molloy; Daithí Burke (0-1), Ronan Steede; Jason Leonard (0-2, 1f), Micheal Lundy, Mike Farragher; Gary Sice (1-7, 7f), Martin Farragher (1-0), Ian Burke (0-1). Subs: Gavin Burke (0-1) for Wall (36), Colin Brady for Lundy (black card, 37), Conor Cunningham for Dylan McHugh (56), Ciaran McGrath for Martin Farragher (58), Dylan Canney for Sice (60+1)
Gaoth Dobhair: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Gary McFadden; Niall Friel (0-1), Odhrán McFadden-Ferry, Dáire Ó Baoill (0-1); Eamon McGee, Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-2, 1f); Dan McBride, Michael Carroll, Naoise Ó Baoill; Cian Mulligan (0-2), Kevin Cassidy (1-2), Eamonn Collum (0-2). Subs: James Carroll (0-2) for N Ó Baoill (56), James Boyle for McFadden (58)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)Tags: