Corofin’s manager this season, Ger Keane, has been involved with Corofin football in different capacities for the past 30 years or more.
As a player, coach, selector, and now as senior manager Keane has been around the block, and next Sunday he will bring his team to O’Hara Park, Charlestown, in another big day out where they face the home side in the Connacht club final (2pm ).
Home advantage and home support is worth a lot in the depths of winter when pitches are sticky and wet, and the wind and rain is blowing down at you, and your team is a point or two in arrears.
It will not be easy. Keane knows that. And he readily admits that his team face a really tough job of work in order to collect what would be the club’s fifth Connacht title and their second in succession. Despite conceding home advantage, Keane has a lot of belief in his panel of players.
“We will be favourites after our display in the semi-final — even playing away from home, but we are an experienced outfit at this stage. “Kieran[Fitzgerald] is out with a hamstring injury and Michael [Comer] did his cruciate ligament again this year and they are big losses, but we’ll just have to get on with the task in hand”.
On the plus side for Corofin Alan O’Donovan is back doing light training and may have a role to play this weekend. However, it is three youngsters, this year’s county minor captain Ronan Steede and Michael Farragher up front and Cathal Silke at corner back, who have impressed Keane the most in their last few outings. “It is great to have a few new players break onto the team and the three lads who all won minor medals with the club last year have made a big impression this year. Young players coming into the senior set-up is a massive boost for everyone involved and it also increases the competition for starting places which impacts on the quality and effort at training which is a major positive.”
Corofin’s team will not be selected until Saturday, but after an impressive win in the semi-final over Manorhamilton, there are unlikely to be many alterations. Keane who shares the management duties with team coach Martin McNamara, Paul McGettigan, and Pat Burke is eager to point out the respect he has for Sunday’s opposition. “Charlestown will be very difficult to beat, especially down there. Like ourselves they have no huge big stars but they work really hard for each other. They showed in their win over Knockmore and their semi-final success against Castlerea that they have a huge desire for success and a great work-ethic. They won the Connacht club championship in 2001 when they beat Annaghdown in the final and they were unlucky to go out against Nemo Rangers in the semi-final that year, so they know what it takes to get out of Connacht and they have some very experienced players all over the field. We don’t expect anything easy, but we have belief in ourselves and in the panel and if we play as we are capable of we are optimistic about taking another step forward. I don’t expect there will be much between the sides, but we are hopeful of being on the right side of a narrow victory.” For that to happen, key players like Aiden Donnellan and Greg Higgins at midfield, defenders Damien Burke and Tony Goggins, team captain Kieran Comer, Joe Canney and the play anywhere trio of Gary Sice, Alan Burke and Kieran McGrath will have to use their pace, stamina, and penetration to make a genuine impact.