Connacht final victory shows the quality all clubs aspire to

GAA: Casey's Call

Not that we were ever in doubt or that we needed reminding - but Corofin's fourth Connacht club title in a row has set them apart as a truly great club team.

They have now gone 33 championship games in a row unbeaten, dating way back to February 2017. They last lost a championship game against Dr Crokes of Kerry in the All-Ireland semi final of that year.

You have to go even further back - to November 2015 - since they last lost a game in Connacht when Castlebar Mitchels defeated them in the Connacht final in what was an absolutely thrilling encounter in Tuam; they were the reigning All-Ireland champions at the time.

They will now firmly set their goal on winning the Andy Merrigan cup for the third year in a row, which, if achieved, will confirm their status as the greatest club team ever. This time preparations are slightly different for the provincial winners as the semi finals are being run off on the first weekend in January, with the show-piece down for January 19 instead of the customary St Patrick’s day.

It will mean little in the line of festive celebrating for any of the players involved in either the hurling or football semi finals this time around, but at least it leaves players from successful clubs available for their county managers for the start of the national league. I can only imagine how the likes of Kevin Walsh and Brian Cody have felt down the years, not having the services of Corofin or Ballyhale Shamrocks players for the majority of their league campaigns. Lets also hope the weather is favourable in early January and it doesn't wreak havoc and cause cancellations of those club games.

The Connaught final between Corofin and Roscommon champions, Padraig Pearses, was a scrappy, hostile, foul-ridden affair, with Pearses' discipline leaving a lot to be desired, while also having a major bearing on the outcome. They berated the ref almost every time he made a decision against them and even when he made a call in their favour, they still berated him, demanding further action against the Corofin player that committed the foul.

This resulted in a pile of ugly jostling that left players being fired to the ground when they congregated around the ref to have their say. Corofin had obviously expected it and had made a firm decision that they weren't going to back down. I felt for referee Eamon O'Grady who certainly had his work cut out for the entire afternoon having to deal with a barrage of aggressive questioning upon every call he made. The bizarre thing in all of this is that when Pearses concentrated on their football, they put it up to the All-Ireland champions and drew level with them during the second half and when the teams were tied at six points a piece, the Padraig Pearses' supporters almost lifted the galvanise off the roof in Tuam stadium.

In true Corofin fashion though they responded in kind with a superbly worked team goal. The quick thinking Jason Leonard fired a pass in to Ian Burke, who in turn hand-passed to Liam Silke, who then finished to the net with the assuredness of a premiership striker. That goal was the beginning of the end for Pearses. Silke has an unreal goal-scoring record for a corner-back, his goal against Ballintubber was the difference between the sides in the semi final.

More Padraig Pearses' indiscipline led to the sending off of Niall Daly and they had earlier lost the services of the two Carty brothers to black cards, which in turn allowed the standard bearers of club football to cruise home, winning out on a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-7. They certainly have the art of winning. They will take stopping again.

Balla and Charlestown play out a thriller in u21B final

Charlestown and Balla played out a pulsating County u21 B final last Saturday evening with the men from Balla emerging victorious on a scoreline of 0-16 to 1-12. There was some lovely football played by both teams in pristine ground conditions under the lights in Aughamore. Aaron Walsh and Shay Benson caused untold damage to the Sarsfields' rearguard while up the other end, Paul Towey continued his fine form, scoring 0-7 of Charlestown's nine first half points. Balla, to their credit, swallowed up the space afforded to Towey for the second half and held on at the end to prevent The Sarsfields from claiming two titles in a row at this level. Heartbreak for Charlestown but congrats to Balla. Hopefuly this weekend's u21A final will live up to the billing when Westport and Claremorris clash in a highly anticipated final.

Heartbreak for brave MacHale Rovers girls

It was All-Ireland final heartbreak for the ladies of MacHale Rovers who came so agonisingly close to winning the Ireland junior club title; their opponents, Donaghmore of Cork, winning by the slimmest of margins after extra time. Newly crowned All-Star Rachel Kearns picked up a costly yellow card during the second half of normal time but did return to score a crucial goal for her team. Cork star Rena Buckley top scored for the winners with 0-7 in a player-of-the-match performance to add to her enormous collection of All-Ireland medals. There was some great success though for one Mayo club with Na Brídeóga winning the All Ireland Junior B title last weekend - congratulations to them.


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