It is impossible not to be a major fan of the terrific coverage that TG4 are providing and have provided over the past few years on Gaelic games at club level every Sunday during the winter and spring periods. And their highlights package on Monday evening at 8pm is in the not-to-be-missed category for any genuine dyed-in-the- wool GAA enthusiast.
This Sunday they are showing the Connacht senior football final live at 2pm between Corofin (Galway ) and Eastern Harps (Sligo ). Then they are covering the deferred coverage of the Leinster senior football semi final between Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin ) and Navan O'Mahonys(Meath ). Both games look exceedingly attractive, well- balanced and should provide for some top class entertainment.
It would be easy to assume that next Sunday will be a sure thing for the Galway county champions. They are on home turf, they have won the Connacht championship before in 1991, 1995, and 1997 and they showed some good form against Castlerea the last day out.
However that would be a dangerous and naïve approach for them to adopt.
Eastern Harps are a very well-drilled and organised outfit.
Their coach Denis Johnson, who is a PE teacher by profession, is highly respected and has been one of the top managers in Sligo for many years. He won a county championship medal with the club on the field of play back in 1975 and he was the Harps manager when they won a county title in 1993 too.
They have a good spine to their team with lots of experience and in Ross Donovan, Tom Taylor, John Rafferty, Paul McGovern, and Paul Taylor, they have the players to provide a very stiff challenge for the Galway county champions.
No Sligo team has won the club provincial title since St Mary’s back in 1983 and Eastern Harps are exceedingly keen to break that duck. Their main scoring threat is new Sligo senior selector Paul Taylor who has been in sparkling form on the edge of the square for them.
He hit 1-06 when they defeated Glencar-Manorhamilton (Leitrim ) in the first round and he also notched eight points when they rightly lowered Ballaghadereen’s flag in the Connacht semi-final.
Taylor was also top scorer in the Sligo county championship helping himself to 1-43 in their domestic competition. And on that kind of form, perhaps the county’s new manager Kevin Walsh will be asking him to take the field of play when the Yeats men face Galway next summer in the inter-county championship?
His manager, Denis Johnson has been hugely impressed with his influence and is full of praise for the Sligo veteran. "Paul has that touch of class that sets him apart. If he gets quality ball, he will cause damage and he has proven that for us all season."
Corofin know that they must be exceedingly disciplined in defence or Taylor will punish any indiscretions from inside the 40 yard line.
Corofin selector Brian Silke, who was club captain in their county final success of 2000 knows that next Sunday will provide them with a tough challenge.
“Some people have gotten a little carried away with our win over Castlerea. We had improved from our county final performance, nonetheless we still made a lot of unnecessary errors and conceded far too many scorable frees. If we are to progress to the All-Ireland quarter-final against Tir Conaill Gaels we will need a big performance from the entire panel and not just our starting fifteen. It could take twenty players to get over the winning line this Sunday and we need everyone to be able to come in and make a positive contribution.
“David Hanly was Man-Of-The-Match the last day, and on Sunday we need other lads all over the field to raise their performances and show real leadership at the vital stages. Eastern Harps are a good side. They don’t panic, so we need to be very professional in our approach.”
There is no doubt but that Eastern Harps will provide Corofin with a stiff examination, however if the north Galway club want to be considered genuine contenders for the All-Ireland club championship, this is a fence that they should be capable of jumping.
Assuming that they take the field with the right attitude and desire and that their forwards are not as profligate as they have been on some occasions in the past, then the midfield promptings from Greg Higgins and Aiden Donnellan should provide sufficient possession for the likes of Alan O’Donovan, Jason Killeen, Trevor Burke, and David Hanly to post a winning tally and push Corofin to their fourth Connacht provincial success.