AIB Ulster Club IFC final: Galbally 1-9 Corduff 0-5
Galbally found the perfect blend of defensive security, creativity and attacking thrust to claim the Ulster Club IFC title as they out-played Corduff last night.
The Tyrone men had the craft to engineer a convincing seven-point success against the Monaghan’s side’s strangely defensive approach at the Athletic Grounds.
Barry Carberry scored the only goal of the game eight minutes into the second half, giving the Pearse’s the breathing space to push for home.
The champions of Monaghan and Tyrone finally faced off following three postponements due to frozen pitches in Newry and Armagh, and when former inter-county managers Paddy Crozier and Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney renewed acquaintances, it was the wily Derry man who came out on top.
Galbally had been here before, losing the 2019 provincial final to another Monaghan club, Magheracloone, at the same venue, but with three years of experience under their belts, they were ready to take that extra step, and did so in style.
Corduff, playing with the wind advantage, were reduced to 14 men after less than a minute as full back Sean McEnaney picked up a black card for a challenge on Enda McGarrity, but during his ten-minute absence from the action his side fell just a point behind.
Daniel Kerr and Gavin McEnaney traded early scores, and much of the opening quarter saw Corduff defend deep, with John McEnaney, Conor McEnaney and Padraic Keenan putting in some solid challenges.
Galbally worked hard to break down the defensive blockades but managed just a point from a Kerr free to shade a low-scoring opening quarter.
Their patience and comfort on the ball saw them create openings for Marc Lennon and Kerr to open up a three points lead by the 22nd minute, but it was Corduff who came out with a more positive approach in the closing ten minutes of the first half.
Sean McEnaney’s driving runs from deep had the Tyrone men backpedalling, and two magnificent Feargal Hanratty scores closed the gap, before Conor McEnaney pressed forward to shoot the leveller.
A Conor Donaghy free sent Galbally in with a narrow 0-5 to 0-4 advantage, and once they got the wind in their backs, they pushed on, centre back Christopher Morris and Kerr, from a mark, opening out a three points lead within five minutes of the restart.
And they made a major breakthrough on 38 minutes, a defensive turnover provided the platform for midfielder Enda McGarrity’s searing run from inside his own half, and the final pass was perfectly timed for Barry Carberry to crash the ball to the net.
Seamus McEnaney made a raft of changes in a bid to re-energise his side’s challenge, and substitute Jason Hand found the target, thanks to another determined play from the excellent Keenan.
They had no option but to commit more men forward, with Galbally happy to sit and hit their opponents on the raid, led by playmaker Liam Rafferty.
Inevitably, it came to route one for the Monaghan men, but goalkeeper Ronan McGeary showed a safe pair of hands, and the frustration began to show, with target man Keith McEnaney sent off on a straight red card on 54 minutes.
Galbally: R McGeary; S Wylie, C Quinn (0-1), Connor Donnelly; M Lennon (0-1), C Morris (0-1), J Hetherington; E McGarrity, Cormac Donnelly; D Kerr (0-4, 2f, 1m), L Rafferty, R Nugent; B Carberry, C Donaghy (0-2, 2f), S Murphy.
Subs: A Carberry for B Carberry, Fearghal McGarrity for Lennon, S Og Mulgrew for Wylie
Corduff: B Woods; J McEnaney, S McEnaney, D McEnaney; P Keenan, C McEnaney (0-1), C Marron; M McEnaney, C Marron; D Finnegan, G McEnaney (0-1), J McGarrell; M Keenan, K McEnaney, F Hanratty (0-2).
Subs: D Marron for Keenan, S Hand (0-1) for C McEnaney, M Mills for M McEnaney, J Hand for J McEnaney, K Hand for S McEnaney
Referee: S Laverty (Antrim).