The All-Ireland semi-final between Corofin and Nemo Rangers of Cork will take place on Saturday in Cusack Park, Ennis.
Throw in for this hotly anticipated battle is at 1.30pm. Corofin are aiming to return to Croke Park for the All-Ireland final on January 19 with the hope of claiming an historic and unprecedented three-in-a-row. If they are to be successful in this aim they must first overcome a Nemo Rangers side who will be chomping at the bit for this challenge. The Cork outfit will be seeking revenge for the humiliating All-Ireland final loss suffered at the hands of their opposition in 2018.
It must be said that Nemo Rangers appear to have improved significantly since that loss suffered almost two years ago. There have been a number of changes in personnel over the past two years, aided by the introduction of a few youngsters such as young corner forward Mark Cronin who has been one of Nemo’s most impressive players throughout the campaign so far. The core of the Nemo side remains the same since these sides last met, with experienced campaigners Paul Kerrigan, Alan Cronin, Alan O’Donovan, Barry O’Driscoll, Luke Connolly still very much to the fore. There is no doubt that Corofin’s backroom team will be designating specific roles to certain individuals in order to nullify the threat provided by Nemo’s most dangerous assets.
Corofin over the past two years along their lengthy campaigns, have been used to a long break over the Christmas holiday. It will be interesting to see if the interruption to their routine caused by this year’s earlier fixture will have any effect on their performance. Such is the experience and capability of many of their players, one would think not. As is the case with Nemo from Corofin’s perspective, a certain number of Corofin’s players will be man-marked in order to curb their influence on the game. The problem for Nemo is who will mark whom? This Corofin side can attack you from everywhere on the pitch. Each of the starting six forwards, on his day is capable of winning a game on their own. That is before you even consider the threat coming from midfield with Ronan Steede and the attacking threat of the defensive trio of Liam Silke, Dylan Wall, and Kieran Molloy. Silke in particular will have to be given close attention considering his goal returns in the Connacht championship.
A feature of Corofin’s games this year has been the strength in depth of their panel which has been particularly evident in their Connacht campaign. Colin Brady in particular has been mightily impressive off the bench with his driving forward runs at stretched defences giving opposition defenders no respite. Other options on the bench include Dylan McHugh, Dylan Canney, Ciaran McGrath and three of this year's Galway U-20 players in the shape of Darragh Silke, Gavin Burke, and Ross Mahon. Kevin O’Brien is sure to have selection headaches given this wealth of talent.
For Corofin to reach Croke Park on January 19 they will need to be at their best to break down a mean defensive unit. Nemo have only conceded one goal in their past six games while being potent at the other end. There is no doubt Corofin have the firepower to break Nemo down but they will need to be at their best. It must not be underestimated the hurt Nemo Rangers endured in Croke Park two years ago and the part it will play in their desire this Saturday. If Corofin can match this hunger and desire they should have enough to get over the line.