Rochford’s Corofin favourites to be crowned Galway champions again

When I played with the Corofin seniors from 1989 until 2004, we had a fairly good team, with Michael and Aidan Donnellan, Martin McNamara, Trevor Burke, Eddie Steede, Gerry Burke and Derek Reilly as good as any club player in the country.

Yet, that squad found it difficult to put together back-to-back county titles, and only managed two-in-a-row once - in 1997 and 1998.

To achieve a three-in-a-row of senior county titles, or even to contemplate such an achievement, is not easy, and it takes an exceptional group of talented and, above all, massively committed players.

That feat of three titles in succession was last achieved by the famed Tuam Stars back in 1958-1959-1960.

Those were totally different times though. The town, as the hub of north Galway, also had many talented men working there from outside the county to boost their side. That magnificent Tuam squad won the Galway county championship from 1954 to 1960 - seven titles on the trot. 

If this Corofin team can win a third title on the trot, they will go down as the best club side to ever come out of the parish.

However, it will not be easy. Mountbellew/Moylough will come with both guns drawn, loaded, and ready for a real shoot-out. They have looked fresh and eager all season and they will be well wired  to take down the All-Ireland club champions.

They were also beaten by Corofin in the 2009 county final after a replay, and they have a few players such as  Joe Bergin and Brian Donnellan who would love to get some compensation for the pain of that defeat too.

Mountbellew management team doing well

The Mountbellew management team of James Foran, Pat Donnellan, Patrick Gardiner, Martin Boyle and Kevin Johnston have their troops in fine fettle, and they were were far superior to Salthill/Knocknacarra in their county senior semi-final, winning by 1-12 to 1-7.  Indeed, they could have won by a far more comprehensive margin, but for a lack of accuracy in front of goals, hitting 15 wides in that game.

Their full-forward line of team captain Cathal Kenny, young Eoin Finnerty, and the accurate Barry McHugh, who shot four points from play, were their real danger men from a scoring perspective. 

Paul Donnellan at wing-forward also made a big impression and they will want more return from Michael Daly’s prodigious talent this Sunday too.

At the back Gary Sweeney, last year's county minor Colm Mannion, Cathal Duffy, David Hogan and Colm Colleran will have to be on full throttle to stop Gary Sice, Martin Farragher, Dylan Wall, Michael Lundy, and perhaps Ian Burke. 

Sice, in particular, has been in superb form for Corofin in their past few games, and he has shown tremendous leadership and an eye for goal in their games against Tuam and Cortoon. No doubt Mountbellew will have a plan in place to try to curtail his influence.  

Corofin have the wherewithal to win this weekend, but they will be expecting a serious test of their mental and physical resilience. 

Unless they match Mountbellew’s enthusiasm, zeal and hunger for a county title, they will beaten.

Sport has a simple formula.

You have to match the other player's desire and hunger before you can even contemplate beating him. Superior skill does not get to show itself if you cannot get the ball.

Look at Kerry and Dublin in this year’s All-Ireland football final; Galway hurlers against Tipperary in their epic All-Ireland hurling semi-final; Japan against South Africa in the Rugby World Cup. The more highly motivated and driven side won the games.

If Corofin match Mountbellew in the desire and motivation department, I would expect them win after a titanic battle.

To do so, they will need honest leadership from Greg Higgins, who was immense against Cortoon, and he will need to stop Joe Bergin’s influence. An injury-free Ronan Steede, the impressive Liam Silke, his brother Cathal, Kieran McGrath, and team captain Michael Farragher, are key for the titleholders.

Highly-decorated veterans, such as Alan Burke and the inspirational Kieran Fitzgerald, will also have to go to the well one more time if they are to get past, what I expect to be, a serious challenge from the Mountbellew/Moylough men.

That said, Corofin should just about have the experience and strength in depth to get a narrow win.

If this is to be Stephen Rochford’s last year in charge, they will want the season to last as long as possible.

•Corofin v Mountbellew/Moylough, Sunday (3pm ), Tuam Stadium.


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