Corofin will not be taking Gweedore for granted

Corofin head to Carrick-on-Shannon on Saturday (1.30pm ) in their bid for a second consecutive All-Ireland club final.

Manager Kevin O’Brien will be hoping his charges show their experience at this level to advance to the St Patrick’s Day final for the third time in five years when they face Donegal's Gaoth Dobhair, a team in unchartered territory.

The Ulster champions Gweedore may not have experienced an All-Ireland semi final at club level, but they do boast Sam Maguire winners in their side - the two McGees, Neil and Eamonn, and evergreen Kevin Cassidy in at full forward.

It really is a testament to the hunger, drive and skill levels of the talismanic Cassidy and Corofin’s Kieran Fitzgerald that with a combined age of 75, their key battle could well decide the outcome on Saturday afternoon.

Having experienced plenty of tough situations over the last two years, Corofin’s joint captain Ciaran McGrath knows only too well games rarely go to plan.

‘‘You are going to have to adapt on the day,’’ he says. It is about every player knowing their role, what is expected of them, and not panicking if they are behind late in the game, similar to last October’s county final against Mountbellew/Moylough, he says.

Having recovered from yet another injury, he has played his part in this year’s championship.

‘‘I’m expecting it to be a physical game, a bit like Moorefield last year," McGrath says.

Gweedore have shown plenty of mettle this season to win their first Ulster title, winning after an extra-time battle, with Monaghan's Scotstown, and ensuring the trophy returned to Donegal for the first time since 1975.

It will also be an emotional game for the Donegal outfit, following the death of squad member Micheal Roarty, who was one of four men killed following a car accident in the county last month.

As a result, Corofin, in their ninth All Ireland club semi-final, are still not taking anything for granted, and have been back training since Christmas.

O'Brien says despite Gweedore's lack of experience, they have been impressive this season.

"They have a good blend of experience and youth, a team that has come through the Ulster championship with good performances, and they will be a big opposition for us."

Fixture list

The GAA fixture list has been the centre of attention in the lead up to the game. Kieran Molloy will be delighted that NUIG have been able to postpone their game for 24 hours and he can travel to Mallow in comfort after the game. UCD’s Liam Silke has not been as lucky and he will miss his side's Sigerson’s semi-final, having missed the final last year because of injury in the Moorefield game.

As a result Kieran Fitzgerald is calling for the club championship to be finished during the calendar year to avoid fixture clashes like this in the future.

‘‘It’s a crazy situation and how has it happened again?’’ he asked. "It’s just too hard on the players."

The Sigerson fixtures cannot be played at any other time due to exams, but it could make sense to have the games played before Christmas.

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