Kevin Cassidy fires a shot at the Corofin goals PICTURE: THOMAS GALLAGHER
There will be no All-Ireland final for Gaoth Dobhair but they put an heroic display against the champions, Corofin in Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday in the semi-final.
Gaoth Dobhair 1-12
The Galway and Connacht champions were just a little bit slicker and their goals made the difference. They were excellent at transferring ball quickly and also knew how to stop the Gaoth Dobhair running game.
At one stage it looked as if the game was going away from Gaoth Dobhair but they stuck to their task to the end and there was inches between creating the goals needed with a couple of passes.
They cut a five deficit back to two in the closing stages, but the craft of Corofin was the difference. The full-forward line of the All-Ireland champions proved a real handful.
Overall, the Donegal and Ulster champions can hold their heads high after giving their all with Kevin Cassidy and Odhrán Mac Niallais in particular outstanding. Cian Mulligan and Odhrán McFadden Ferry also put in big shifts. There was a case for bringing James Carroll in earlier, while the discipline in the tackle and in talking to the referee did not help. (Gaoth Dobhair suffered in this regard while Kieran Fitzgerald kicked the ball away in the second half with the ball being moved on).
Gaoth Dobhair got off to the perfect start with Dáire Ó Baoill taking the ball on his own '45' and going the full length of the field to pop over a point.
Corofin were level on four minutes when an off the ball foul was punished by Gary Sice, but after a patient build-up Cian Mulligan, with his left, had the Donegal side ahead again on eight minutes.
Liam Silke levelled and Gaoth Dobhair missed a big chance on 10 minutes when Eamonn Collum did well to win a free but was off target from 20m with the kick.
It proved to be a turning point as Corofin began to look dangerous. They opened the Gaoth Dobhair defence a minute later but the Donegal side were lucky not to concede a goal as Daithi Burke's effort went just over.
Gary Sice followed a free before the first goal arrived on 15 minutes. Again it was a series of quick passes with Kieran Molloy getting in. His shot was well saved by Christopher Sweeney but Gary Sice was following up to first-time to the net and a 1- to 0-2 lead.
Gaoth Dobhair needed a little bit of inspiration and it came in the form of Naoise Ó Baoill. He cut through to give a pass to Christopher McFadden, whose shot was saved but Kevin Cassidy followed up to fire to the net. There was a strong case that McFadden took a few steps too many.
In response the quick transfer of ball from the back saw Ian Burke fire over, but then Gaoth Dobhair had a purple patch between the 24th and 27th minutes, notching three points from Odhrán Mac Niallais, Niall Friel (after Cassidy won a throw-up) and Cian Mulligan to leave it 1-6 to 1-5.
But they were hit with a brilliant second goal on 29 minutes when Gary Sice went long to Ian Burke, who won the ball in front of Gary McFadden and he set Martin Farragher free on the loop to fire to the net.
A minute later another Sice long ball saw Gaoth Dobhair give away a foul and Sice finished the first half scoring from the free.
Half-time: Gaoth Dobhair 1-5, Corofin 2-7
Eamon McGee made a great run from throw-in and almost created a goal. They did get the first score with Odhrán Mac Niallais starting and finishing a good move, but a soft free at other end allowed Gary Sice to cancel.
But Gaoth Dobhair responded with Mac Niallais finding Eamonn Collum who pointed. Then Corofin lost Micheál Lundy to a black card for a trip on Odhrán McFadden Ferry, who hadn't given the Galway man an inch during the game.
But Gaoth Dobhair were just giving the ball away too easily and then a soft free allowed Sice to push the lead out to five again after 42 minutes.
Neil McGee made a great burst but his pass was inches over the head of Kevin Cassidy. But they came again with Cassidy collecting a long pass to point and immediately Eamon McGee punched the kick-out back and Michael Carroll won a free for Collum to reduce the margin to 2-9 to 1-9 after 45 minutes.
With eight minutes left Dan McBride and Michael Collum combined to set up Cassidy and he hit a great point with his right. Dan McBride was through just after but elected not to shoot.
Gavin Burke pushed the lead out to three and a poor kick-out resulted in Jason Leonard adding another. Gary Sice made it a five point game again with three minutes left.
James Carroll came of the bench to point for Gaoth Dobhair but they needed a second goal but at the other end Gary Sice was helped as the ball was moved on (for the fourth time) to point a free, before Carroll closed out the scoring with his second.
GAOTH DOBHAIR: Christopher Sweeney; Gary McFadden, Neil McGee, Christopher McFadden; Niall Friel (0-1), Eamon McGee, Odhrán McFadden Ferry; Dáire Ó Baoill (0-1), Odhrán Mac Niallais (0-2,1f); Cian Mulligan (0-2), Naoise Ó Baoill, Donal McBride; Eamonn Collum (0-2,1f), Kevin Cassidy (1-2), Michael Carroll. Subs: James Carroll (0-2) for N Ó Baoill 55; James Boyle for C McFadden 57
COROFIN: Bernard Power; Cathal Silke, Kieran Fitzgerald, Liam Silke (0-1); Kieran Molloy, Dylan McHugh, Dylan Wall; Daithí Burke (0-1), Ronan Steede; Gary Sice (1-7,7f), Mike Farragher, Jason Leonard (0-2,1f); Martin Farragher (1-0), Ian Burke (0-1), Micheál Lundy. Subs: Gavin Burke (0-1) for Wall 36; Colin Brady for Lunch b card 37; Conor Cunningham for D McHugh 55; Ciaran McGrath for M Farragher 58; Dylan Canney for Sice 60
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois)