Ballintubbber battle back but are denied at the death
BALLINTUBBER'S run of defeats against Corofin - they lost to the Galway champions in last year's final - continued this afternoon as the Mayo champions came up short in this absorbing Connaught semi-final.
It finished Corofin 1-10, Ballintubber 0-11 on a bitterly cold but dry afternoon in Tuam Stadium.
Ballintubber looked to be heading for a hiding when they trailed at one stage by six points - 1-9 to 0-6 - with 15 minutes remaining.
However, they staged a remarkable comeback to reduce the deficit to a single point as the game entered the red, with five minutes of injury time announced and Corofin hanging on by a thread – 1-9 to 0-11.
Ballintubber were unlucky not to send this game to extra-time when a late raid almost yielded a score but it was Corofin who broke away and using all their guile and experience, earned a late free to seal the deal.
Both sides played it very cagey in the opening half with Corofin early from the traps with two rapid points from Michael Farragher and Kieran Molloy inside two minutes, but by the 15th minute the sides were tied at 0-3 apiece, Diarmuid O'Connor with Ballintubber's opening score, and Stephen O'Malley and Alan Plunkett also hitting the target.
The sides were level at 0-4 apiece but a late free from Jason Leonard, who kicked some terrific scores from dead-balls in the second half, gave Corofin that slender 0-5 to 0-4 lead.
The big score of the game came just three minutes into the second half when Liam Silke - named at number four, but spending a lot of time in Corofin's attack - was found all alone inside the Ballintubber cover and fired to the net.
However, Ballintubber were far from happy that the referee allowed Ian Burke away with an inordinately high number of steps to set up Silke for the goal, while the move which led to that Corofin attack came when Alan Plunkett seemed to be harshly punished for taking too many steps.
In any event, Ballinbtubber were facing a six-point deficit but they clawed their way back, Cillian O'Connor taking centre stage with some big frees, Ciaran Gavin also nailing a free, while Myles Kelly also hit the target, but the Mayo champions just fell short once again.
Scorers for Corofin: L. Silke 1-1, J. Leonard 0-4 (4f), Martin Farragher 0-2, K. Molloy, Michael Farragher and G. Sice 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballintubber: C. O'Connor (0-5, 4f), D. O'Connor, M. Plunkett, A. Pluniket, S. O'Malley, C. Gavin (f) and M. Kelly 0-1 each.