Ballintubber go into their first senior provincial final as underdogs with the bookies, but the men from Clogher will be having no doubts in their own minds that they are up to the task on Sunday.
Standing in their way are a Corofin side who have cantered their way through the Galway championship and had a training ground run out against Aughawillan in their Connacht semi-final win in Carrick-on-Shannon a fortnight ago. They ran in seven goals against the Leitrim champions, with Michael Lundy bagging a hat-trick, Martin Farragher a brace, and Ian Burke and Joe Canney also getting in on the action. What kind of preparation will that have been for the Galway men, who face a well drilled and slick Ballintubber team.
Peter Ford and Tony Duffy really could not have planned better challenges for their team in the build up to the game, with Ballintubber beating last year’s Connacht champions and beaten All Ireland finalists, Castlebar Mitchels, in the Mayo final, before they dispatched the 2013 All Ireland champions St Brigid’s in the semi-final last time around.
Ballintubber head into the game with Gary Loftus and Stephen Finnerty out of contention, but they have plenty of cover on the bench, along with an attack that will have had Corofin manager Stephen Rochford having plenty of sleepless nights. The Crossmolina man, who himself won an All Ireland club medal with his home town north Mayo club in 2001, will have been plotting ways to stop the three O’Connor brothers, while Alan Dillon has been in top-class form for his club in recent weeks pulling the strings in attack.
In the middle of the field, Jason Gibbons and Stephen Broderick have struck up a genuinely impressive partnership, after new recruit Broderick was moved out to the middle of the field in a league game this year and has stayed there ever since.
Corofin come to town boasting their own impressive roll call of names, with Michael Comer, Kieran Fitzgerald, Ciaran McGrath, Alan Burke, Gary Sice, Michael Lundy, and Ronan Steede all familiar names to football followers in the west.
It is going to be an all action, intense, 60 minutes of football and one that you will not want to miss. The action gets under way at 2pm in MacHale Park on Sunday.