This Sunday in Tuam Stadium will see the meeting of age-old rivals Corofin and Tuam Stars in the 2019 county final. Throw-in at Tuam Stadium where the new Tommy Varden terrace will open for the first time, is at 3.30pm.
Tuam will be hoping to win their first county championship since 1994, while preventing Corofin from winning seven consecutive titles. Tuam Stars achieved that feat from 1954-1960, and this current crop of players will want to write their own piece of history.
Tuam Stars come into the game as massive underdogs, despite an impressive display in their semi-final victory over Moycullen almost a fortnight ago.
It has been an amazing turnaround for this team which 12 months ago was fighting relegation. An enormous amount of credit for this reversal of fortunes must go to manager Tommy Carton who took over the reins this season. Carton was also a starter of the 1994 winning Tuam Stars team.
A feature of his side has been their running power in the final quarter of games, and this is what got them over the line against Moycullen, outscoring their opposition 2-06 to 0-03 in the second half.
Corofin enter the final not having set the world alight in their previous encounters - albeit the games were a done deal with a quarter of the game remaining. Tuam will target Corofin’s sloppy ending to their games against Mountbellew-Moylough and Salthill Knocknacarra, and they will know they have a great chance if they are still in the match as the end of the game approaches.
The two sides met earlier in the season in the group stages when Corofin emerged victorious by four points. On that occasion Corofin enduring some nervous moments after they allowed their opponents back into the game towards the end when the win appeared to be sealed.
Corofin boss Kevin O’Brien may have a few selection headaches with four members of the starting XV in last March’s All-Ireland victory having sat out the semi-final. Kieran Fitzgerald, Micháel Lundy, Michael Farragher and Daithí Burke all started on the bench two weeks ago, but it is expected some may return to the starting team this Sunday.
Corofin’s strength in depth has been prominent throughout the campaign. They have dealt comfortably with absentees through injury to win every game during the summer. Tuam appear to have a full squad from which to choose, and on the back of the previous performance, it is not expected they will make many changes, although Rory O’Connor’s pace from the bench did impress.
It will be fascinating to see the match-ups on the pitch. The ever dangerous Corofin inside-forward line of Ian Burke and Martin Farragher will need to be marked closely. At the opposite end, Tuam’s Jamie Murphy, who has scored 4-10 from play this championship, will require special attention from whichever Corofin defender is designated to mark him. Around the middle of the pitch, Gary O’Donnell’s driving runs for Tuam will have to be tracked religiously, and Corofin’s Ronan Steede will need to be stopped in dictating the play as he does so often from midfield.
It promises to be an enthralling encounter with a lot at stake for both clubs. History is on the line this coming Sunday. Though neither team will be thinking about it beforehand, they will most certainly be talking about it afterwards.