Three Galway clubs, Corofin, Monivea Abbey, and Menlough, will all take to the field next weekend in the semi-finals of the Connacht Senior, Intermediate, and Junior club football championships.
Menlough footballers will play Lahardane MacHales of Mayo next Sunday at 1.30pm in MacHale Park, Castlebar in the semi-finals of the Connacht Junior Football Championship. At the same time in Tuam Stadium, Monivea Abbey play another Mayo side Kilmeena in the Intermediate Semi-Final. Corofin are first out on Saturday against Ballina in Pearse Stadium at 2pm in the Senior Semi-Final in a match that will bring back memories of the side’s last meeting in the provincial championship in 1998. On that occasion, reigning All-Ireland champions Corofin were forced to travel to Ballina two days in a row after their Connacht semi-final finished in a draw on Saturday. As the Galway club championship ran late, Corofin knew they were going to concede home advantage and have to go to Ballina again the following day if the game finished level, which it duly did 0-9 to 1-6. Here is the Independent match report of that replay 25 years ago in November of 1998:
1998 CONNACHT CLUB SFC SEMI-FINAL REPLAY – BALLINA 0-11 COROFIN 0-9
All-Ireland club football champions Corofin surrendered their crown as Ballina Stephenites pulled off one of the major shocks of the season in an epic replay at Ballina yesterday. Galway king-pins Corofin had battled back from the dead to earn a 0-9 to 1-6 draw in Saturday’s original match, and the replay 24 hours later followed a similar pattern with Ballina surging into a 0-8 to 0-3 lead by half-time. Then came the inevitable fightback as Corofin threw everything into attack. But on this occasion, Ballina were equal to the challenge and two late frees from Martin McGrath and Brian McStay saw them through to the Connacht semi-final where they now meet Sligo champions Eastern Harps in Sligo on Sunday week. It was an exhilarating victory for Ballina, especially as they had to do it with 14 men after one of their best backs, Kenneth Golden, was sent off after an off-the-ball incident in the 38th minute. Corofin were trailing six points, 0-9 to 0-3, when Golden was dismissed and they used the extra man to combat Ballina’s outstanding midfield partnership of Liam McHale and David Brady. The Galway side eventually drew level in the 52nd minute when top scorer Derek Reilly brought his points total to six. However, Ballina put in a late surge and sealed the issue with two brilliantly pointed frees from Martin McGrath on the left and Brian McStay on the right. McStay flies back to Boston this morning his fourth such trip for his club this season and he hopes to be back in a fortnight’s time. Among the Ballina heroes were the Brady brothers David, Ger, and Liam. Shane Sweeney passed a late fitness test to form an efficient half-back line with Brian Ruane and Brian Heffernan, while Denis Coen was outstanding at centre half-forward. Afterwards, Ballina manager Noel O’Dowd called on Mayo boss John Maughan to omit his side’s county players including McHale and David Brady for the team to play Kildare in the National League next Sunday, in advance of the Eastern Harps clash a week later.
SCORERS Ballina: M McGrath 0-5 (all fs), B McStay 0-4 (0-2 all fs), K Lynn and G Brady 0-1 each. Corofin: D Reilly 0-6 (0-5 frees), T Burke 0-2, K Treacy 0-1.
BALLINA: J Healy; K Golden, J Devenney, G Brady; B Ruane, B Heffernan, S Sweeney; L McHale, D Brady; B McStay, D Coen, M McGrath; L Brady, P McGarry, K Lynn. Sub: S Barrett for L Brady.
COROFIN: M McNamara; O Burke, B Silke, John Lardner; A Fahy, R Silke, James Lardner; K Newell, M Donnellan; S Conlisk, T Burke, M Kenny; K Comer, K Treacy, D Reilly. Sub: E Steede for Kenny.