Maigh Cuilinn 1-10
By Billy Coss for gaa.ie at Pearse Stadium
A 57th minute Peter Cooke goal proved decisive as Maigh Cuilinn captured their second Galway Senior Football Championship crown in three seasons after a thrilling final with Salthill-Knocknacarra.
It was heartbreak for John O’Mahony’s side who were well placed to upset the odds when taking a two-point lead into the closing stages. There would be a late twist in the tale, however, when Owen Gallagher’s point attempt held up in the wind at the Árus Bóthar na Trá end, and Cooke beat Salthill-Knocknacarra ‘keeper Ruairí Lavelle to the punch to net a dramatic title-winning score.
Maigh Cuilinn had first use of the elements at Pearse Stadium, but it was Salthill-Knocknacarra who made the perfect start when a dipping effort from Daniel O’Flaherty, one of four Galway senior panellists in their ranks, found the top corner of Andrew Power’s net.
It gave Salthill-Knocknacarra a 1-1 to 0-1 lead though Maigh Cuilinn responded in impressive fashion with points from Seán Kelly, Cooke (free), Dessie Conneely (free) and man of the match Gallagher to forge ahead by the ninth minute.
Don Connellan’s team were unable to drive on though and would add just one more score from David Wynne in the remainder of the half. Instead, a Rob Finnerty-inspired Salthill-Knocknacarra took over and carried a 1-5 to 0-6 lead in at the break.
The All-Star nominee accounted for four points for the seasiders into the wind, with Tomo Culhane’s injury-time free further increasing their hopes of a fourth county title.
But with Seán Kelly, Cooke and Gallagher to the fore, Maigh Cuilinn’s renowned running game soon made inroads and back-to-back Conneely frees had the sides on level terms by the 39th minute.
As the tension increased, points from Seánie Ó Leidhinn and Evan Murphy twice edged Salthill-Knocknacarra back in front only for Conneely’s fifth of the afternoon and Gallagher’s second drawing the sides level once more.
The underdogs rallied again and Evan Nolan came off the bench to land two magnificent left-footed scores to edge Salthill-Knocknacarra ever closer to capturing the Frank Fox Cup.
Cooke would have other ideas however and his late intervention delivered a second title in the club’s history.
Scorers for Maigh Cuilinn: Dessie Conneely 0-5 (4f), Peter Cooke 1-1 (1f), Owen Gallagher 0-2, Seán Kelly 0-1, David Wynne 0-1.
Scorers for Salthill-Knocknacarra: Robert Finnerty 0-4 (2f), Daniel O’Flaherty 1-0, Evan Nolan 0-2, Evan Murphy 0-1, Seánie Ó Leidhinn 0-1, Tomo Culhane 0-1 (f).
Maigh Cuilinn: Andrew Power; Cian Deane, Conor Corcoran, David Wynne; Michael Moughan, Neil Mulcahy, Eoghan Kelly; Peter Cooke, Paul Kelly; Ger Davoren, Seán Kelly, Tom Clarke; Micheál O’Reilly, Owen Gallagher, Dessie Conneely (captain). Subs: Aidan Claffey for Deane (h-t); Niall Walsh for Davoren (48), Conor Bohan for O’Reilly (60+2)
Salthill-Knocknacarra: Ruairí Lavelle; Eoin McFadden, William Finnerty, Eoghan Deeley; Cathal Sweeney, Daniel O’Flaherty, Gearóid Armstrong; John Maher, Mikey Culhane; Evan Murphy, Rob Finnerty (captain), Seánie Ó Leidhinn; Donie Hunt, Tomo Culhane, Brian Conlon. Subs: Evan Nolan for Hunt (45), Charlie Power for Conlon (45), Matthew Thompson for Ó Leidhinn (52), Paddy Kitt for Mikey Culhane (60).
Referee: Martin Flaherty.