Rampant Corofin sashay to another senior title

Looking from the stand at the two respective sets of players on Sunday in Tuam stadium before the county final, there was an obvious difference in physique and power between the sides.

Even before James Molloy threw in the ball, it was impossible not to be fearful for St Michael's based on that fact.

Corofin players such as Gary Sice, Daithí Burke, Ronan Steede, Michael Lundy, Kieran Fitzgerald, Michael Comer and team captain Michael Farragher looked incredibly sleek and powerful - the result of the past few years playing at the top level of football or hurling.

That is not to be dismissive of the St Michael’s players, who have had a very good season and were in the county final on merit. They are a hard-working, talented and committed panel, but they were out of their depth last weekend.

The reality is that no club in Galway can currently compete with the panel of players that Stephen Rochford manages, and many believe they would even give the current county team their fill if they met in a competitive fixture.

They have beaten Mountbellew/Moylough twice, Tuam Stars and Milltown at their ease, and it was no different for John Kenny's men who went down by 5-12 to 0-9 as Corofin cruised to their 16th senior title.

I believe, and I am open to correction on this, that 13 of Corofin’s starting players on Sunday have represented Galway at either u-21, or senior level. Nine of Corofin's team have played senior championship with Galway.

At least nine of those starting last weekend have played senior inter-county championship with the county. It is difficult, nay impossible, to compete with that kind of talent, experience and belief if playing in a first county final.

The speed of their forward play at times was stunning and the unfortunate St Michael’s rear-guard, who did try hard, just found the pace and movement of the Corofin forwards far too much to handle.

There is no shame

St Michael’s worked hard and never threw in the towel and they have enjoyed a productive and progressive year which brought them to their first county final.

Players such as team captain Eddie Hoare, who kicked five points (0-2fs ), Frank Daly, David Cunnane, Greg Rogan, Eamonn Brannigan, Keith Warde and Jamie Downes tried their best, but they were overrun by the yellow tide.

The pressure that Corofin exerted all over the field led to numerous turnovers and St Michael's were just not able for the pace and ferocity in which Corofin attacked and tackled.

Once Michael Lundy and Michael Farragher, with a fantastic strike, had hit two majors past Blaine Sheridan, and the champions led by 2-7 to 0-1, the game as a contest was over.

Watching Galway manager Kevin Walsh must have been impressed with a large number of Corofin players and Gary Sice in particular had a storming game and ended with 1-5 (0-2fs ).

When Sice is in top form, he is a real handful, and he did not look like a man who believes his inter-county race is over.

No real test for Corofin

A major negative from a Corofin perspective is that their last few games, indeed the entire Galway county championship, leaves them with a lot of unanswered questions.

If they are to reach a Connacht final, they will be facing the likes of Ballintubber or St Brigid’s who have been too good for them on the past few occasions they have met. And they would go into that battle without having any real championship test in the past few months.

Another major concern is the injury crisis. Team captain Michael Farragher had to limp off on Sunday, joining long-term injury victim and star forward Justin Burke, who is likely to be out of action until at least after Christmas. Veteran Gary Delaney is also currently unavailable.

As they found out to their cost last year against Castlebar Mitchels, a few key injuries can really upset the balance of a team, regardless of the quality of the subs who come on.

If team management need to start impact subs, such as Joe Canney, Greg Higgins and Conor Cunningham, they are significantly weakening their bench.

If Corofin are to progress to a Connacht title and perhaps win it, they cannot afford to lose many other players to injury.

First up they have the winners of Sligo and Leitrim away, and if they jump that fence, they will have to face down one of the big guns in the final.

Ballintubber won their third Mayo title in five years on Sunday by beating Castlebar by 2-9 to 1-9 with Cillian and Padraic O' Connor scoring the goals, while St Brigid's, with Frankie Dolan notching 1-8 (0-3fs, 0-2 45s ), won their fifth title in a row when hammering St Faithleach's by 3-12 to 0-7.

We will see how good this Corofin panel really is by the end of November.


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