Last gasp defeats can have a shuddering impact on a club. Back in November, 2006 at Dr Hyde Park, Corofin were on the verge of annexing Connacht title number five. Victory was within the Galway team's grasp, they had absorbed punishment from St Brigid’s, but Corofin were still standing. So when the knock out blow arrived three minutes into stoppage time the devastation was palpable. The languid Karol Mannion lashed as sweet a shot as he will ever drill, rippling the net to fracture Corofin hearts. They still haven’t been fully mended, but the restoration process has been assisted by Corofin’s Galway SFC success.
Though the county decider was banal, Corofin weren’t bothered by the lack of dashing football. The sole task in Pearse Stadium was to win, that was achieved. Still perfectionists exist in Corofin, and they will be anxious to parade their prowess outside of local environs.
Corofin have always showed an appetite for provinicial fare, but since the storied campaign in 1997 and 1998 they haven’t been too satisfied after leaving Galway. Losses to Crossmolina Deel Rovers and Ballina Stephenites, in particular, when forced to make two mammoth journeys, rankle, but the defeat to Brigid’s was equally galling.
That the current starting XV is filled with players who experienced that harrowing reversal merely adds to Corofin’s sense of want. While the past cannot be altered, Corofin remain intent on amassing more silverware, but Castlerea will be straining every sinew too.
Due to their respected under-age set up Castlerea have been a seriously competitive outfit in Roscommon recently, possessing a capable forward line including county players past and present in Nigel Dineen and Ger Heenaghan. Dineen’s most celebrated afternoon occurred at Tuam Stadium on a sizzling June afternoon in 2001 when Ros rocked, but by the end of that year Galway had recaptured Sam Maguire. Armed with a clever left peg Dineen will need to be policed diligently and Jimmy Sice may opt for Kieran Fitzgerald to shield the attacker. Fitzgerald has the physical attributes to disturb the Castlerea talisman.
Corofin will be acutely aware of Heneghan’s shrewd free taking prowess. A raft of Corofin’s panel have been team mates of Heneghan at GMIT and will know that any indiscretions will be punished.
This ensures that the centrefield combat carries deep consequence. Since making the senior breakthrough Greg Higgins has shown enough over the past couple of years to be renowned as a substantial contributor to the Corofin cause, something Aidan Donnellan has always been considered.
Tough as old boots, Donnellan usually revels in the winter exchanges when the game is all about courage and character. They are the qualities Donnellan brings and with Kieran McGrath and Damien Burke in the Corofin back division they have no shortage of resolution.
Such is the depth of Corofin’s defensive options they can station Gary Sice and Alan Burke in roving commissions at wing forward. Corofin’s successes have frequently been established by a running game where the ball is transferred through the lines with smooth simplicity.
Glimpses of this were available when Cortoon Shamrocks were outfoxed as Alan O’Donovan and Joe Canney concluded the tastiest forays with immaculate points.
Such precision will need to be exhibited early and often as a smashing start is craved by Corofin. Throughout the past 15 years, the Brigid’s blip aside, Corofin have proven masters of efficiency when protecting an advantage, and that is the script they will seek to enact next Sunday.