*Corofin’s Diarmuid Cahill. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Corofin’s path to senior redemption received a timely validation after exacting revenge on Kildysart to cement their place in the Intermediate Football Final in Shanahan McNamara Memorial Park, Doonbeg on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Shanahan McNamara Memorial Park, Doonbeg
A blistering wind-assisted start of 1-6 without reply inside the opening ten minutes allowed Corofin the breathing space to lead from start to finish. However, they were certainly asked questions by an Emmet McMahon-led Kildysart who slashed a nine point second half deficit to just four nearing the final ten minutes.
However, the back-to-back finalists ultimately left themselves with too big a mountain to climb as without talisman Ger ‘Bobby’ Kelly who had turned the tide in Kildysart’s favour in the opening round bout against the same opponents, they kicked too many wides to really make Corofin sweat down the final straight.
Indeed, a total of 16 wides, 12 of which came in the second period, would prove costly for Kildysart as instead, Corofin countered through impressive dual star Diarmuid Cahill to tack on some vital late scores and settle matters.
Minor Cahill was also the chief architect in the first half while Damien O’Loughlin was inspirational at the back as Corofin hit the ground running. Points from Cilléin Mullins, Gearoid Cahill, Robin Mounsey and Kevin Keane were bolstered by 1-2 from the ever-impressive Jamie Malone whose cool sidefoot ground finish past goalkeeper Robert Eyres in the ninth minute saw last year’s relegated side from senior soar nine clear.
And such was their early dominance that the damage could have been greater only for Eyres to superbly block a Gearoid Cahill one-on-one.
Crucially, Kildysart opened their account with a settling Seamus Casey point just before the water break. And they would maintain that momentum with three more entering the second quarter through Emmet McMahon (2) and Mikey Donnellan to lower the gap to five at 1-6 to 0-4 by the 24th minute.
Corofin required leadership and who better than Jamie Malone to answer the call as first he traded points with Diarmuid O’Donnell before inspring a late three point flourish. Initially earning a brace of frees, one which he scored himself from distance, the 2019 All-Star nominee took his tally to 1-5 when completing the first half scoring with another boomer at 1-10 to 0-05.
It was a pivotal late contribution as with the loss through injury of county senior Gearoid Cahill at half-time allied to now facing into a stiff breeze, Corofin merely had to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the remainder.
And so it proved as an early Diarmuid Cahill point restored a nine point advantage, a margin that would remain until the two-thirds mark as Jamie Malone, despite going through five different markers, popped up to cancel an Emmet McMahon single at 1-12 to 0-06.
Being their seventh semi-final in eight years, a determined Kildysart did manage to rally once more, inevitably through McMahon, who remarkably raided for four of a five point blitz to slash the arrears to just four by the 48th minute at 1-12 to 0-11.
By this stage, Corofin were struggling to even win their own kick-outs but with Kildysart repeeatedly squandering a host of late opportunities, the North Clare side fully capitalised on the counter-attack with the last three points.
Teenagers Diarmuid Cahill (2) and Robin Mounsey were the ones to profit as Corofin tightened their grip on a first final appearance since going up to senior in 2015.
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield will be their obstinate opponents in a fortnight’s time but with momentum fully behind them after a three match winning streak, Corofin will be difficult to stop if they can replicate their first half form.
Scorers for Corofin: Jamie Malone (1-6, 1f); Diarmuid Cahill (0-4, 1f); Robin Mounsey (0-2); Cillein Mullins, Gearoid Cahill, Kevin Keane (’45) (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kildysart: Emmet McMahon (0-7, 2f); Diarmuid O’Donnell (0-2f); Seamus Casey, Mikey Donnellan (0-1 each)
1: Kieran Carkhill
4: Damien O’Loughlin
3: Brendan Keane
8: Eoin Clancy
5: Colm Rice
6: Fionn Clancy
7: Shay Malone
9: Kevin Keane
21: Cilléin Mullins
10: Sean O’Brien
12: Gearoid Cahill
14: Gearoid Kelly
15: Jamie Malone
22: Diarmuid Cahill
13: Robin Mounsey
18: Conor Leen for G. Cahill (HT, inj)
20: John Keane for Kelly (41)
19: Fergus Killeen for O’Brien (45)
2: John Rees for Killeen (60, inj)
11: Cillian Clancy for D. Cahill (61)
1: Robert Eyres
4: Brian Eyres
3: Kieran Leahy
11: Shane McNelis
5: Stevie Sheehan
6: Conor Donnellan
7: Rory McMahon
9: Keith O’Connor
15: Emmet McMahon
10: Mikey Donnellan
14: Seamus Casey
8: Kieran O’Brien
25: Kieran Eyres
19: Neil O’Connor
13: Diarmuid O’Donnell
23: Ian Flanagan for Leahy (15, inj)
12: Conor Hassett for K. Eyres (36)
27: Michael Eustace for Flanagan (37, inj)
17: Luke McGrath for M. Donnellan (47)
24: John Murtagh for McNelis (59)
Referee: Barry Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown)