Corofin primed for All Ireland in bid to create history

Jason Leonard of Corofin has been in good form with his free-taking this season, says all the squad members are there to ‘do our unique job’.

Jason Leonard of Corofin has been in good form with his free-taking this season, says all the squad members are there to ‘do our unique job’.

Corofin’s quest for club football immortality will be decided on Sunday in the All Ireland Senior Club Football Championship final.

Throw in at Croke Park is at 4pm when they will face a Kilcoo side managed by Mickey Moran, who has previously faced Corofin in Croke Park with Slaughtneil.

Corofin are chasing an historic three-in-a-row All-Ireland football club titles which has never been achieved. Crossmaglen Rangers and UCD are the only other two sides to previously have retained the Andy Merrigan Cup - Crossmaglen achieved that feat twice (2011 and 2012 and 1999 and 2000 ), while UCD did so in 1974 and 1975.

Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien will have no doubt shut down any talk of three-in-a-row within the Corofin camp, but he will be acutely aware of this chat outside the group. It would be an incredible achievement and would be put alongside Dublin’s five-in-a-row achievement, considering there is little or no break given for the club champions in the calendar season.

Now, however, Corofin are facing a team that will pose questions which have never previously been asked. The intensity and speed the Down champions will bring is on a different level to anything they have seen. They have runners from all angles and are relentless, and to last the full 60 minutes at this intensity is outstanding.

O’Brien will have a full hand from which to select. Dylan Wall is expected to be back to full fitness following an illness which ruled him out of the start of the semi-final versus Nemo Rangers. It will be interesting to see if O’Brien opts to use him from the bench or play him from the start, and if so, which of the half back line will drop to the bench. Wall’s pace and power going forward is a vital weapon to the Corofin juggernaut.

A key player for Kilcoo is wing back Daryl Branagan, one of five Branagan brothers in their starting line-up. He has impressed many in this year's campaign with his dogged determination and his ability to pop up in the right place at the right time to find a goal for his team. He is likely to be tagged by either Micháel Lundy or Jason Leonard, both of whom spoke ahead of next Sunday’s final.

Leonard, whose free-taking has been a key component of scores for Corofin this year, says the buzz among the players and even among students in the primary school is electric.

"Any day you get to Croke Park is a special day and All-Ireland club final day is no different. We’ve no heroes on our team. We’re all just there to do our unique job.”

Captain Micháel Lundy, goalscorer in the semi-final, says Corofin is full of leaders.

“There’s no extra pressure being captain, but it’s a great honour. I’m delighted to just be playing on the team. There are no guarantees you’re going to make the starting 15, there’s such competition within the squad. There are great leaders within the group, people who stand up and are counted. The team is full of leaders.”

It is sure to be a titanic battle in Croke Park this coming Sunday and both teams will be well primed. However, Galway will be backing Corofin to come out on top and carry the Andy Merrigan across the Shannon for an historic third successive year.

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