St Gall's can now look forward to only their second All Ireland club final appearance on St Patrick’s Day.
But in tense and absorbing semi-final at Parnell Park they needed extra-time before disposing of the Galway and Connacht champions.
Not for the first time their irrepressible 21-year-old CJ McGourty was central to victory, his 13th minute goal giving his side the best possible start.
And when it was all over he was responsible for a goal and nine points of his team’s 1-15. Overall it was a team effort, but there also notable contributions from defender Sean Kelly, midfielder Aodhan Gallagher and corner forward Kevin Niblock.
Gracious in victory McGourty paid tribute to the losers saying they were unlucky at the finish.
“It was one of those games where it was a pity there had to be a loser, but we’ve always felt that we left an All Ireland behind in 2006 when losing a final and that has driven us on,” said McGourty.
“It’s great for the GAA to have a team from Antrim and one from Clare competing in the final. It will be a wonderful spectacle in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.
“But this isn’t just about the players. It’s as much for our spectators and people back home in the club who have always been there for us.
“We always felt we owed ourselves one after missing out in 2006 so we’re thrilled to bits to be heading back to Croke Park and there’s no better place to be on March 17. We’re under no illusions. The Clare champions are a fine team as they showed in beating Portlaoise in the semi-final, but we’ll show them due respect as you get nothing easy in finals.”
A late night victory in Parnell Park was due reward for winning manager Lenny Harbinson, a man who shared in Ulster club success in the early 80s.
“We’re all beginning to focus on March 17 and all that entails. This was a night of many emotions, a hugely competitive match and Corofin proved that they are fantastic Connacht champions,” said Harbinson. “We came to Parnell Park expecting one hell of a battle and we certainly weren’t disappointed. In the end we just came out on the right side of a four points victory, but it was much too close for comfort.
“We’ve been training hard since January and we’ve also had a couple of tough challenge games over the last few weeks and in a sense that helped us.
“It’s fantastic for Kilmurry from Clare to be there.
“And the same applies to us. So it will be two unfashionable clubs and everything points to a wonderful spectacle on March 17.”
The Antrim and Ulster champions are now where they always wanted to be, but in the cold light of day they will appreciate the need to raise their game even further if they are to get their hands on the biggest prize in All Ireland club football.
Corofin: Morris (0-1), McGrath, Fitzgearld, Silke, Burke, D Burke, Sice (0-1) Higgins, Donnellan, Farragher, Canney, Steede, Goggins, O'Donovan (0-3, 2f), Comer (1-6, 0-5 f). Subs: Monaghan (for Silke), Delaney (for Goggins), Murphy (for Donnellan), Burke (for Farragher), Power (for Monaghan), Donnellan (for Murphy).
St Gall's: Ronan Gallagher, Veronica (0-1), McClean, Brady, Kelly, Healy, S Kelly (0-2), A Gallagher, Burke (0-1), McGourty (0-1), Rory Gallagher, O'Neill, CJ McGourty (1-9 (0-7f), Niblock, McGourty (0-1). Subs: Stewart (for Rory Gallagher), Kennedy (e-t), McCrory (for Burke), Burns (for O'Neill) C Gallagher (for Niblock).
Referee: C Reilly (Meath).