Corofin have it all to do against Antrim’s St Gall’s

Corofin have been down this road a few times before, and they will know they face a stiff test against Antrim champions St Gall’s on Sunday at Parnell Park (2.30pm ) if they are to advance to the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick’s Day.

Last year, under the management of Jimmy Sice, they came up short against Kilmacud Crokes in Mullingar, and the victors went on to collect the Andy Merrigan Cup.

Ger Keane,who was a selector last season, is in charge this season and he is hoping the experience garnered last year and the hurt from that defeat can drive the team on next Sunday.

“We felt that we had more in the tank last year against Kilmacud, but on the day things didn’t go our way. Next Sunday we are up against a very talented and experienced team and they are worthy favourites.

“They have been around for a few years now and they lost an All-Ireland final a few years ago to Salthill, so they know what it takes at this level.”

Keane was a selector in 1998 with Tony Murphy and Paul McGettigan when Corofin won their only All-Ireland title and he sees the same blend of youth and experience in this current squad.

“We have some terrific players coming through to the starting 15 like Ronan Steede, Michael Farragher and Cathal Silke, and a whole raft of other young men who are pushing hard in the subs. Allied to that we have guys like Kieran Fitzgerald, Alan and Damien Burke, Michael Comer (injured ), and Gary Sice who have been involved with Galway at all levels. Players like Aiden Donnellan, Trevor Burke, and our captain Kieran Comer have oceans of experience. There is a good balance of youth and experience in our squad and that is a positive for big games like this weekend.”

Corofin have a few niggling injuries in their ranks, but Keane is hopeful all concerned can play a role.

“Greg [Higgins] has a hamstring niggle, Cathal [Silke] has a chipped bone in his thumb, and Gary [Delaney] is struggling with a calf strain. But we are hopeful that most of them will be able to line out”.

The bookies have very little between the sides with St Gall’s slight favourites at 4/5 and Corofin at 5/4, with 7/1 the draw.

St Gall’s have a very fine full forward line of Fermanagh player Rory Gallagher, and CJ McGourty and Kevin Niblock in the corners. They are also mobile and strong at midfield with Antrim senior star Aodhan Gallagher a key man for them.

Keane knows that St Gall’s are a fine team, but he has full confidence in his own charges.

“You cannot expect to reach an All-Ireland club final easily. We are playing reasonably well within ourselves and we will have to up the performance considerably to win next Sunday.

“We played the Galway u-21s last weekend and we know that unless we improve enormously on that display, we are in trouble. But we believe we can do so and it is a great boost to have Kieran Fitzgerald back from injury and available in that regard.

“We will be going up Sunday morning knowing what we have to do. We will stick to our usual routine and focus on what has to be done on the pitch. The preparations have gone really well and now it’s up to the lads to do the business inside the white lines. Portuma are in the hurling final already and we would love to join them. It won’t be easy getting there, but we are up for the challenge.

St Gall's claimed the Ulster Championship title after recording an emphatic 0-16 to 0-05 win over Derry champions Loup at Newry's Páirc Esler, while Corofin won back-to-back titles in Connacht after beating Mayo champions Charlestown 2-14 to 0-07 at Charlestown.

*The game is live on TG4


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