Corofin come good in extra-time to seal final berth

Corofin’s Alan Burke, Ronan Steede, Daithi Burke and Michael Farragher enjoy victory in the Connacht GAA Football Senior Club Championship semi-final match over Castlebar Mitchels at MacHale Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Corofin’s Alan Burke, Ronan Steede, Daithi Burke and Michael Farragher enjoy victory in the Connacht GAA Football Senior Club Championship semi-final match over Castlebar Mitchels at MacHale Park. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Corofin’s 0-17 to 0-14 triumph over Castlebar Mitchels after extra-time on Sunday in McHale Park sees the club into its seventh Connacht club final in 11 years and searching for a fourth title since 2008.

They will face their nemesis St Brigid's of Roscommon in that final on Sunday week (November 27 ) in Carrick on Shannon - the Roscommon team having hammered Aughawilliam (Leitrim ) in their semi-final.

The older, or perhaps to be more PC, the more mature members of Kevin O’Brien’s squad, will not need a reminder of how the men from Kiltoom have rained on their parade on more than one occasion in those finals.

In the 2006 decider in Hyde Park, Corofin looked destined to win going into injury time when, leading by two points, former Roscommon star Karol Mannion hit a thunderbolt from 20 yards to win the game and leave Corofin eviscerated.

Five years later in 2011, the Roscommon champions again administered super sour medicine on their home turf to the Galway champions when they won that final by a single point, 0-11 to 0-10.

That tie was marred in controversy and what happened that day is best left in the past, as reopening old wounds achieves nothing.

However, those two defeats to the same opposition in provincial finals, should ensure all the current Corofin squad – young and not so young – will be on red alert to produce a big performance in 10 days’ time.

Considering two recent All-Ireland club champions will be in action (St Brigid’s 2013 ) and Corofin (2015 ), the entire GAA world will be keeping an eye on the outcome. It is a game to really savour.

Ian Burke outstanding

Not surprisingly Corofin found the Mayo champions a real handful last weekend and, only for some terrific individual displays, they would not be in this upcoming final.

Ian Burke was Corofin’s standout player and all his four points from play, off both left and right, were really top class.

The former Galway U21 star once again confirmed the truism that all the best forwards in Gaelic football are extremely proficient and accurate off both feet. And any GAA coach worth his or her salt, in hurling or football, must constantly preach this message.

To win at the top level all teams need a few players up front who can shimmy one way, and slot it over from the other.

Burke, whose father Ollie won three club provincial titles in the 1990s with the club, has an outrageous and special "skip and hop" that buys him some space to release his shot. I have never seen it in any coaching manual, but it is a delicious dummy to have in a player’s repertoire.

Burke was well supported by former captain Michael Farragher, whose move out the field was a key moment in the game. His link play and mobility gave the Galway men an extra string to their bow and made them tick.

Double All-Star hurler Daithí Burke was also immense around the middle and his sheer power, work-rate, and ability to win dirty ball make him vital to the cause. He also chipped in with a crucial point in normal time.

Corofin’s other midfielder Ronan Steede was on and off the field more times than most of us could keep track of with a bloodied nose. However, anyone watching the game would testify the team played better when he was inside the whitewash, and his late point in normal time was a stunning effort, which showed great moral courage and conviction.

Bernard Power a huge addition

One other player who has made a phenomenal difference over the past few months to the team’s performances is Bernard Power.

The Galway custodian’s coolness under pressure and ability to find his men on the restart is a key weapon for the squad.

On numerous occasions last weekend he popped ball to Ciaran McGrath, Cathal Silke and Conor Cunningham, who had a mighty game, one of his finest.

In the modern game you have to keep the ball from kick-outs and Power is damn good at that.

Finally it was good to see this year's club captain Alan Burke, who turns 32 on Sunday, come on and make a really positive impact off the bench, as did Barry O’Donovan.

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