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A gulf in class as Slaughtneil come up short against Corofin


Heartache: A dejected Cormac O’Doherty of Slaughtneil after defeat to Corofin

Heartache: A dejected Cormac O’Doherty of Slaughtneil after defeat to Corofin

?INPHO/Donall Farmer

Heartache: A dejected Cormac O’Doherty of Slaughtneil after defeat to Corofin

Slaughtneil's glorious ascension from perennial upstarts in their own backyard to an All-Ireland title was stopped in brutal fashion by a Corofin display with excellence in every department.

Quite simply, the Derry men were blown out of the water by a team operating at a different level, with the ball moving faster off the Croke Park surface than they would have encountered throughout the winter.

The threats for Corofin were everywhere and once they settled into a rhythm, it was looking like a long afternoon for Mickey Moran's men.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall early on. Boosted by the inclusion of Christopher 'Sammy' Bradley, who had been receiving intensive treatment on his broken collarbone, Slaughtneil settled the better and made all the early running.

Chrissy McKaigue was a threat going forward and drew a foul to allow Bradley to hit an early free over from distance, and McKaigue himself ventured forward after winning a break from a kickout to hit an inspirational score.

They might also have had a penalty shout when Pádrig Kelly sent Paul Bradley through on goal only for Liam Silke to commit a foot trip that escaped the notice of referee David Coldrick.

However, despite having had all the possession, they also clipped wides from Chris Bradley, Kelly and Gerard Bradley.

When Corofin hit back, they did so with venom. Micheál Lundy skipped past three challenges and the despairing block of marker Brendan Rodgers to point on 12 minutes and added two more within a minute.

His third point was a follow-up from Daithí Burke's fiercely-struck goal attempt that Slaughtneil goalkeeper Antoin McMullan parried.

The next score came from a high ball in, delivered by Gary Delaney with Corofin creating a mismatch with Gary Sice marking Conan Cassidy. Sice fielded and his quick hands sent Martin Farragher away, who applied finesse to the shot this time and it rolled in underneath McMullan.

By this stage the superior football skills of Corofin were apparent. Their next score featured a pin-ball exchange of hand passes between Ian and Daithí Burke and Sice before Farragher hooked over.

Slaughtneil answered back with a Gerard Bradley point but it was temporary respite.

During their run to this stage, Slaughtneil's midfield of Patsy Bradley and Paudie McGuigan had faced down any midfield partnership they played. Now, they were in deep trouble. From 12 kickouts McMullan hit in the first half, they only claimed three.

In Sice, Corofin had a break-ball winner extraordinaire while Greg Higgins was operating comfortably as sweeper.

Delaney added another point before Silke clipped over a long-range free.

There was another moment of utter panic when after winning another kickout, a long ball sent in to Delaney was dished off to goalscorer Farragher.

He jinked right, then left and got purchase behind his shot but McMullan courageously got his body in the right place and the ball came off his shoulder.

That left the half time score Slaughtneil 0-3, Corofin 1-8.

Knowing they had to change matters, Slaughtneil altered tack in the second half. Ronan Bradley had vacated his wing-forward slot in the first half and Corofin had used Silke as a sweeper, but now they had pushed up on him.

They opened the second half scoring with a Kelly free, but every time they scored, Corofin were able to hit back with not one, but multiple scores to maintain their advantage.

Gerard Bradley got another point after Cormac O'Doherty forced the turnover from a full-court press, but immediately afterwards the Derry men hit three wides, Cassidy accounting for two, and O'Doherty one.

Slaughtneil would go on to hit three more wides in the half - 10 in the entire game - while Corofin on the other hand were almost a perfect model of composure.

They did not hit their first wide until 26 minutes, by which time they had 1-6, and they only hit four wides overall.

While, in defence, Corofin only left Lundy and Farragher in the opposition's half.

That figure became 15 men behind the ball at times in the second half as the game wound to a close with multiple substitutes coming on for both sides.

Slaughtneil had a chance to die with their boots on.

In injury-time, Patsy Bradley forced a turnover.

Substitutes Pádraig Cassidy and Sé McGuigan combined to send O'Doherty through but when he went to ground in the penalty area, Coldrick threw his arms open to indicate a penalty kick.

O'Doherty took it himself, and blazed to the right of the posts.

It wasn't their day, in any sense.

Slaughtneil: A McMullan; F McEldowney (Capt), B Rodgers, K McKaigue; C Cassidy, C McKaigue 0-1, B McGuigan; P Bradley, P McGuigan; P Kelly 0-1, 1f, C Bradley 0-1, 1f, R Bradley; G Bradley 0-3, P Bradley 0-1, 1f, C O'Doherty. Subs: P Cassidy, P McNeill and S McGuigan for P Kelly, Cassidy and R Bradley (43m), Fergal McEldowney and S Kelly for C Bradley and P McGuigan (51m), P Kearney for B McGuigan (54m)

Yellow cards: Francis McEldowney (36m)

Corofin: T Healy; C McGrath, K Fitzgerald, C Silke; G Higgins, A Burke, L Silke 0-1, 1f; D Burke, R Steede 0-1; G Sice 0-5, 4f, Michael Farragher (Capt) 0-1, G Delaney 0-1; Martin Farragher 1-0, M Lundy 0-3, I Burke 0-1. Subs: D Wall for Martin Farragher (49m), J Burke, C Cunningham and M Comer for C Silke, Steede and Higgins (54m), J Canney 0-1, and K Murphy for I Burke and Delaney (57m).

Yellow cards: Michael Farragher (42m)

Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)

Attendance: 29,752

Belfast Telegraph