Current All-Ireland, Connacht and Galway champions Corofin are boiling hot favourites to win their sixth county senior football title in a row this Sunday when they take on Mountbellew/Moylough in the county final at Pearse Stadium (3pm ).
Kevin O’Brien’s charges do not seem to have lost any of their desire for silverware, and they were far too strong and cohesive for Annaghdown last Sunday at Tuam Stadium, winning with ease by 0-12 to 0-8 to set up this weekend’s clash with Michael Donnellan’s Mountbellew side.
Mountbellew defeated Salthill-Knocknacarra in their semi-final by 1-13 to 1-10 to get back into another decider, and Barry McHugh and the impressive Michael Daly bagged most of the scores for them. Their three-pointer came from corner forward Colin Ryan, who seized on a goal-keeping error by county player Ruairí Lavelle to score an opportunist goal.
Repeat of last year’s final
This weekend is a repeat of last year’s final in a game that Corofin won comfortably by 2-14 to 0-10 at Tuam Stadium - their goals coming from Conor Cunningham and Martin Farragher.
Mountbellew, to their credit, have been consistent this season and have been the second best team in the county over the past few years.
This Sunday will see them into their third county final decider in four years. However they, along with all other sides in the county, have struggled massively to match Corofin’s slick inter-passing play, cohesive teamwork, collective work-rate and scoring power up front.
A plus for Mountbellew this weekend is that Corofin will be without influential midfielder Ronan Steede, who picked up a red card last Sunday, and probably Ciaran Brady, who was replaced in the first half last Sunday with injury.
Assuming both midfielders are unavailable, they will probably turn to dual star Daithí Burke and perhaps Michael Farragher, Jason Leonard or Liam Silke to man the engine room.
However, Mountbellew are missing players too. Fom last year’s county final team important players such as Cathal Kenny, Shane Moran, Joe Bergin and Aaron McHugh are all unavailable for a variety of reasons, and their absence has weakened their chances of a first senior title since 1986.
Their manager Michael Donnellan, who won seven county medals as a player in the Corofin colours in the 1990s and 2000s, and his management team of Kieran Murphy, Michael O’Reilly and Noel Simmons, will know their squad will have to produce an exceptional performance if they are going to take down the kingpins of club football in the county.
In the Dalys, Barry McHugh, the Donnellans and Eoin Finnerty they have some genuine talent, but they lack the strength in depth of Corofin, and the wide range of scoring threats.
In last year’s final they had four scorers with Barry McHugh hitting 0-6 (4fs ), whereas Corofin had eight different scorers.
Corofin's scoring threat
On Sunday it is impossible not to believe that if Corofin can break even around the middle, they have the greater scoring threats up front in Jason Leonard, Gary Sice, Martin Farragher, Ian Burke and Micheal Lundy to do a number on the Mountbellew rearguard. Plus, they could hit the black and amber men with runners from deep, such as the highly impressive Dylan Wall, Kieran Molloy and Liam Silke.
No doubt Mountbellew will come with all guns blazing to try to knock Corofin off their pedestal, but based on all known form over the past few years that outcome is unlikely.
Corofin are an extremely seasoned and talented group of players. They consistently know what is required to get over the line as winners. It is difficult to see any different outcome in Pearse Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
The referee for the game is Salthill’s James Molloy.
The senior game is preceded by the replay of the county intermediate final between An Spidéal and Michéal Breathnachs (1pm ) who served up an exciting draw last weekend, and the official for that game is Noel Dempsey.