Corofin favourites to beat Killarney Crokes

There will be a lot of neutrals at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick this Saturday at 4pm for the highly anticipated All-Ireland senior club football semi-final between Galway and Connacht champions Corofin, and the Kerry and Munster champions Killarney Crokes.

Both sides possess a host of top quality players.

Kerry have Colm "Gooch" Cooper, who has won eight All-Stars during his illustrious career, Johnny Buckley, Fionn Fitzgerald, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O'Leary and Daithí Casey in their ranks. Corofin, who were All-Ireland champions a few seasons ago, have exciting players in the Burkes, the Farraghers, the Silkes, Gary Sice, and former Galway intercounty stars Kieran Fitzgerald, Kieran McGrath and Alan Burke.

A friend of mine who has no allegiance to either club or county is travelling from Kildare for the game, and as he put it: "With those two clubs in action, it should be a right game of football."

Corofin's preparations have been going very well and thankfully they have no late injury worries which means Kevin O'Brien and his management team will have a full hand from which to select.

Another big plus for their chances is that players such as top quality forward Martin Farragher, who has been troubled with a hamstring injury for a few months, and Greg Higgins, who has had hip trouble, are back moving well and should be able to come on and make contributions if required.

Club captain Alan Burke has also been used as a real impact sub over the championship season to date, and in a game of such tight margins as Saturday is likely to be, it can often be a few players who come off the bench in the third quarter that can make all the difference.

Burke and Steede must be on their game

A key foundation block for Corofin's win over Castlebar in the Connacht semi-final was the display of midfielders Daithí Burke and Ronan Steede.

Both of them can be match winners on any given day and if the men from North Galway are going to be back in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day, they will need both Burke and Steede to be on full throttle this weekend.

If they can break even or better around the middle, then players such as Micheal Lundy, Gary Sice, Jason Leonard, Ian Burke and former All-Ireland winning captain and key forward Michael Farragher have the skills sets to do real damage to the Crokes' rearguard.

One other Corofin player who must bring his A game is goalkeeper Bernard Power.

He has been impressive in their run to this stage, and his restarts will be hugely important in two days' time as possession cannot be given away cheaply against such high quality opponents.

The Kerry men are well able to flood men back behind the ball when they lose possession and Corofin will be keen to move the ball at speed into their danger men.

There are some mouth-watering duels to anticipate and it will be intriguing to see who Corofin assign to pick up "The Gooch" from the get-go.

The Corofin defence has been in good form over the last year, but they would be the first to admit the quality of the challenge they face against the Kerry champions on Saturday will be different than what they have had to deal with heretofore.

It has the potential to be a real cracker and one not to be missed.

On the two occasions Corofin have played Kerry opposition at this stage of the competition - Crokes in 1992 and Laune Rangers in 1996 - they lost, so hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky.

Based on the form and performance of real quality Corofin showed in their dismantling of St Brigid's in the Connacht club final, and the grit they mustered to edge out Castlebar in the semi-final after extra time, I would give them a slight nod to eke out a win and get past the Killarney men with two or three points to spare.

The game is live on TG4.


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