Injury-hit Corofin expects a massive battle on Sunday

The bookies have Corofin as hot favourites to advance to the Connacht senior club final when they take on Mayo champions Castlebar Mitchels in the provincial semi-final at Tuam Stadium this Sunday (2pm ).

However, Corofin's manager Stephen Rochford knows the Galway club will have to be at its very best to see off the Castlebar men.

Corofin's chances of a victory have also been seriously dented by two significant injuries to key players, Gary Delaney (shoulder ) and Daithí Burke (foot injury ). Both men were injured in the county final win.

Allied to their absence, neither team captain Kieran Fitzgerald (hip ) nor Michael Comer (knee ) has been able to play any competitive football at all in the past four weeks since that final. Both men will be given until the weekend before a decision is made on their availability.

Rochford is positive and realistic about the task that faces his, and David Morris's charges this weekend.

"We are totally focused on the challenge we face on Sunday. Our approach has been the same all year, and that is to give total respect to the opposition we are facing,” he says.

“We did that before all our Galway championship games and we expect a real ding-dong game with Castlebar on Sunday. We can only control what happens inside our camp. What people are talking about outside it, is beyond our control."

Rochford says Castlebar has some very good players in Barry Moran, Tom Cunniffe and Richie Feeney, who were all involved with the Mayo seniors this year.

“Other lads such as Alan Feeney, Patrick Durkin, Neil Doughlas and Eoin O' Reilly are all very good performers and there will be nothing easy for either side on Sunday."

Rochford, who won an All-Ireland club medal with Crossmolina, knows the Castlebar team well and has been impressed with their performances in Pat Holmes reign.

"They have been knocking on the door for the past few years, and while their win over Breaffy was their first county senior title since 1993, they will be very keen to try to get a crack at a provincial title. We are prepared for a real battle, and with any Mayo and Galway clash, at club or county level, there is usually not too much between the sides."

Despite all the injuries, Rochford is confident Corofin has the panel to fill the slots of any missing players.

"We are fortunate to have a strong panel and have men like Alan Burke, Damien Burke, Cathal Silke, Padraig Kelly, Tom and Shane Monaghan, Padraig Hanley and Tomás Costello, who have all been in good form over the past few weeks. At this time of the season, you need a strong panel, and we know the guys we call upon will be well up to the job required."

Castlebar have suffered a big blow too with the suspension of their young and highly talented midfielder Danny Kirby, who was sent off in a club u-21 game last weekend. His partnership with Barry Moran was highly effective in the Mayo county final and he will be a big loss for the Mayo men.

They have had all week to make plans for his absence, and in Pat Holmes they possess a very experienced manager. In 2001 he led the Mayo senior team to a National League (beating Galway in the final ) and he also masterminded the county to an All-Ireland u-21 championship success in 2006.

In light of Corofin's injuries, it is a difficult game to call.

However, assuming their central diamond of Greg Higgins, Kieran Comer and Ronan Steede all perform, and that Gary Sice, Michael Farragher, Ian Burke and Joe Canney all play to the level they did in the county final, allied to home advantage, the Galway champions should progress.


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