Corofin (Galway) 2-13 Castlebar Mitchels (Mayo) 1-12
Extra-time points from Gary Sice and Jason Leonard gave Corofin the Connacht SFC club title for a record seventh time.
Goals from Colin Brady and Micheal Lundy in the first half put Corofin in control, but a late rally from Castlebar Mitchels saw them close to within a point in injury-time, before David Stenson kicked a late pressure free from the left – Mitchels fifth in a row – to send the game to extra-time.
After failing to score for the last 13 minutes, Corofin reeled off three points in the first four minutes of extra-time, and then missed a penalty, but Sice and Martin Farragher saw them to the win.
It only took Castlebar three minutes to hit the game’s first goal and after Danny Kirby and Neil Douglas worked the ball down the right, Cian Costello’s pass across goal was palmed into the net by Aidan Walsh.
A late tackle by Barry Moran allowed Jason Leonard to get Corofin off the mark from a free in the fifth minute, but they took the lead five minutes later when Colin Brady exchanged passes with Liam Silke and hit the net from a tight angle.
Throughout the first half Mitchels had trouble shutting down a bright Corofin forward line, who played some intricate passing moves through the hand, while their angles of running seemed to confuse the Mayo champions time and again.
Douglas kicked a fine score to level the game, while an exchange of frees for Sice and David Stenson meant the scores were level 1-02 apiece after 16 minutes.
The loss of Corofin’s experienced full-back, Kieran Fitzgerald after 20 minutes following a clash of heads with teammate Conor Cunningham, was a blow to the Galway champions, and a second Stenson free was another setback eight minutes from the interval.
But from there to the break Corofin took control. Leonard kicked the levelling free and Brady landed a great score from play in the 25th minute.
But the quick thinking of Ian Burke two minutes from the break ensured Corofin were ahead at half-time. Burke was needlessly fouled by Paddy Durcan, but he immediately popped up, picked out Lundy with the free and despite slipping, the Galway man rounded Rory Byrne and tapped to the empty net.
With a 2-04 to 1-03 lead to protect in the second-half, Corofin did their hopes of victory no harm when Leonard landed his third free three minutes after the restart, but there was an immediate reply from Mitchels, as Eoghan O’Reilly drove forward and curled over a sweet point.
Kicking into a strengthening wind, Corofin accumulated three quick wides, and after a Moran mark, Stenson fed Douglas, and he scored a great point from a tight angle to put just a goal between the sides.
Leonard and Martin Farragher were decisive though, and two points in a minute restored that five-point cushion, but Stenson and Douglas combined to kick the last five points of normal time to force extra-time.
Sice, Ronan Steede and Leonard kicked three quick points for Corofin to open out a three-point lead in extra-time, but after a foul on Sice, sub Justin Burke saw his penalty easily saved, which would have ended Mitchels hopes.
A point from Douglas cut the led back to two points, but Sice and substitute Barry O’Donovan saw Corofin over the line.
Corofin: B Power; C McGrath (c), K Fitzgerald, L Silke; D Wall, C Cunningham, K Molloy; Michael Farragher, R Steede (0-1); M Lundy (1-0), G Sice (0-3, 2f), J Leonard (0-5, 3f); C Brady (1-1), Martin Farragher (0-2), I Burke.
Subs used: C Silke for Fitzgerald (21 mins blood), D Burke for Brady (53 mins), J Burke for Martin Farragher (57 mins), D McHugh for Molloy (57 mins), B O’Donovan (0-1) for Lundy (60+2 mins), C Brady for Wall (60+3 mins), K Murphy for McGrath (60+5 mins), K Molloy for Cunninghan (73 mins), Martin Farragher for J Burke (79 mins).
Castlebar Mitchels: R Byrne (c); D Newcombe, G McDonagh, R O’Malley; J Maughan, E O’Reilly(0-1), P Durcan; A Walsh (1-0), B Moran; C Costello, D Kirby, S Hopkins; D Stenson (0-6, 4f), N Douglas (0-4, 1f), J Durcan.
Subs used: S Irwin for Maughan (33 mins), N McCarney for Hopkins (48 mins), M Towey for Walsh (72 mins), C Kyne for Costello (74 mins), M McCormack for McCarney (78 mins BC)
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).