Tuam Stadium will host the hotly anticipated Connacht senior club final which will be contested between Corofin and Padraig Pearses of Roscommon on Sunday. Throw-in for this encounter is at 2pm.
Corofin are aiming to win their fourth Connacht title in succession, and in Padraig Pearses they face unfamiliar opponents. Amazingly, this is Corofin’s sixth consecutive Connacht final and it remains to be seen whether there is tiredness in the legs which can be capitalised on, or if their experience will stand them in good stead for what is expected to be a stern test from the Roscommon champions.
Pearses boast a wealth of talent in their ranks and no fewer than four of their players having started for the county side this summer: David Murray, Conor Daly, Niall Daly and Ronan Daly were regulars in the starting XV for Roscommon. They also possess a dangerous inside forward in the form of Hubert Darcy, who will no doubt have been flagged by the Corofin management as the main danger going forward.
Pearses' run in the championship has been underpinned by a keen eye for goal with their direct play wreaking havoc on opponents' defences. They were mightily impressive in their 3-07 to 0-06 win over Tourlestrane in the quarter-final, despite playing the final 20 minutes with 14 men. In the semi-final they disposed of London side Tír Chonaill Gaels comfortably on a scoreline of 2-10 to 0-08 in what was a potential banana skin.
Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien will have been delighted to get over the line against Ballintubber, but will be more than aware they will have to step it up another gear again for the final. This season a feature of Corofin’s game has been that they have allowed sides back into the game when it appears to be all over. This Pearses' side is a different animal to anything they have faced so far, and any loss of concentration will be punished by the Roscommon side.
Corofin will be hoping to have a clean bill of health going into this Sunday’s game. Corner back Ross Mahon was the only absentee from the Ballintubber game. but is expected to return to full fitness for the final. Meanwhile Kieran Fitzgerald has been carrying a few knocks and left the field early against Ballintubber. The real strength of this Corofin side is the seamlessness with which they cope with any injuries. The depth of their squad has been utilised all season and is starting to make an impact. Colin Brady was sprung from the bench in the semi-final and his energy and willingness to break the line was pivotal to his side getting over the line.
It will be fascinating to see what match-ups take place on the pitch on Sunday afternoon. As usual, Corofin’s Ian Burke, Martin Farragher and Gary Sice will require extra attention from the Pearses men. The driving runs from the back of Niall, Ronan and Conor Daly will have to be tagged by the Corofin men, while Hubert Darcy remains the danger man up front.
It promises to be an explosive contest where the reigning champions will be put to the pin of their collar by the underdogs.