It would be easy to believe that next Sunday will be a sure thing for Corofin. They are at home, they have won the Connacht championship before in 1991, 1995, and 1997, and they showed some good form against Castlerea the last day out.
However that would be a dangerous and naïve approach for them to adopt. Eastern Harps is a very well drilled and organised outfit. Coach Denis Johnson, who is a PE teacher, is highly respected, and he has been one of the top managers in the county for many years.
He won a county championship medal with the club on the field of play back in 1975 and he was the Harps’ manager when they won a county title in 1993 too.
They have a good spine to their team, and in Ross Donovan, Tom Taylor, John Rafferty, Paul McGovern, and Paul Taylor, they have the players who will provide a stiff challenge for the Galway county champions.
No Sligo team has won the club provincial title since St Mary’s in 1983, and Eastern Harps are exceedingly keen to break that duck. Their main scoring threat is new Sligo senior selector Paul Taylor who has been in sparkling form on the edge of the square for them.
He hit 1-06 when they defeated Glencar-Manorhamilton (Leitrim ) in the first round and he also notched eight points when they rightly lowered Ballaghadereen’s flag in the Connacht semi-final. He was also top scorer in the Sligo county championship, helping himself to 1-43 in their domestic competition. On that kind of form, perhaps Kevin Walsh will be asking him to take the field of play when the Yeats’ men face Galway next summer?
Johnson has been hugely impressed with his influence and is full of praise for the Sligo veteran. "Paul has that touch of class that sets him apart. If he gets quality ball, he will cause damage, and he has proven that for us all season."
Corofin must be exceedingly disciplined in defence or Taylor will punish any indiscretions from inside the 40 yard line.
Corofin selector Brian Silke, who was club captain in their county final success of 2000, knows that next Sunday will provide them with a tough challenge.
“Some people have got a little carried away with our win over Castlerea. We had improved from our county final performance, nonetheless we still made a lot of unnecessary errors and conceded too many scorable frees.
“ If we are to progress, we will need a big performance from the entire panel and not just our starting 15. It could take 20 players to get over the winning line this Sunday and we need everyone to be able to come in and make a positive contribution.
“David Hanly was man-of-the-match the last day, and on Sunday we need other lads all over the field raising their performances and showing real leadership at the vital stages. Eastern Harps is a good side. They don’t panic, so we need to be very professional in our approach.”
There is no doubt that Eastern Harps will provide Corofin with a stiff examination, but if the north Galway club want to be considered genuine contenders for the All-Ireland club championship, this is a fence they should be capable of jumping.
Assuming that they take the field with the right attitude and desire, and that their forwards are not as profligate as they have been on some occasions in the past, then the midfield promptings from Greg Higgins and Aiden Donnellan should provide sufficient possession for the likes of Joe Canney, Alan O’Donovan, Jason Killeen, Trevor Burke, and David Hanly to post a winning tally.
• The AIB Connacht Club Football Championship final will feature on TG4's live GAA coverage next Sunday afternoon. The coverage from Pearse Stadium will begin at 1:30pm with the match starting at 2pm.