Corofin are rightly basking in their history-making conquests in the All-Ireland club football championship, but when referee Conor Lane brought an end to normal time in Croke Park yesterday, things were looking ropey for the holders.

Jason Leonard's 48th minute free put Galway men into a three-point lead against a Kilcoo side that appeared to be running out of ideas and at a numerical disadvantage following the dismissal of Dylan Ward for a second bookable offence.

The underdogs rallied however and soon after trailed by the bare minimum. Paul Devlin’s equaliser 10 minutes into injury-time meant Corofin went more than 22 minutes without scoring and were in truth barely hanging on as the sides prepared for an extra 20 minutes to settle the outcome.

Add in the dismissal of Mike Farragher in time added on – he would return for extra-time – and all the momentum was with Kilcoo with tensions boiling over repeatedly.

Michel Farragher receives his marching orders

Indeed after a number of skirmishes and exchanges of words, the biggest flash point occurred in the tunnel as both sides made their way for the dressing rooms.

The question was, would Kilcoo kick on, buoyed by the comeback, or would the unsavoury incident almost kick-start the below-par champions into action?

The answer was utterly emphatic. The men in saffron and green hit 1-04 in the opening 10 minutes of extra time, while Kilcoo failed to raise a flag over the 20 minutes. The three in a row was secured.

Just how much of an impact did the tunnel clash have on the winners?

I suppose it was a bit silly, lads going in pumped up at the same time

"In typical fashion, I don’t think anyone saw anything," Kieran Fitzgerald mischievously told RTÉ Sport.

"I suppose it was a bit silly, lads going in pumped up at the same time and no one wants to take a backwards step. I think it was harmless enough really."

The marauding Kieran Molloy also downplayed the flash point. He was replaced in the 48th minute after picking up a shoulder injury and says he missed all the action unfolding.

"I’ll be honest, I didn’t even see it. I was first in the tunnel, I wanted to get to the physio to strap up the shoulder so I didn’t see what happened."

The tactical talk focused on wrestling the advantage away from the rejuvenated Kilcoo.

"We were disappointed with how we managed the last 10 minutes of the normal time," Fitzgerald said.

"The advantage was with them going in as they equalised. We said we weren’t going to sit back and go at them. It was a really good 10 minute spell."

Molloy admitted the manner of the response made victory all the more satisfying.

"The lads knew they had to dig deep and throw the kitchen sink at them. Thankfully we got over the line.

"It was definitely the hardest earned and probably the sweetest because we worked so hard for it."

For evergreen Fitzgerald, it was a fourth All-Ireland club title to go with his 14 county titles. For a player with a Celtic Cross with Galway dating back to 2001, it is an incredible run of success.

The defender admits that he has not made a decision whether to bring the curtain down on an illustrious career.

This may be my last time in Croke Park, and if it is, it's a very special day

"I have to assess my own situation now. I’m just gone 39, and to still be playing at this level is something I never thought I’d be doing. It’s a credit to my club and management the way they have facilitated me. I don’t know what the future holds for me.

"This may be my last time in Croke Park, and if it is, it’s a very special day."