Corofin's success story continues
By Cian O’Connell
Standards, success, spirit, and silverware are all part of the remarkable Corofin story. Having recently completed a five in a row in Galway, Corofin are now especially eager to retain the Connacht Championship.
Sunday’s Tuam Stadium encounter with St Brigid’s is a keenly anticipated clash; two splendid and stories clubs that continue to deliver in Galway, Roscommon, and the province. Since 1991 Corofin have accumulated 16 crowns, 11 in the past 17 years, a staggering feat.
Coaching and preparing for the future has always mattered deeply in Corofin where tradition is blended with talent. “I suppose we are very lucky that over the past five years that things have gone well in the club overall,” Chairman Michael Ryder acknowledges.
“Winning the five in a row when everyone thought we were dead and buried, that the legs were gone, I think there was one last kick in them there for the County Final. It was a great achievement to win the five in a row, it was never done in the club before. Everyone works very hard in the club for the team to achieve.”
That is most certainly the case. Ryder is a typical Corofin clubman, striving to ensure they remain the dominant force in Galway football. Back in the 1990s Corofin won nine minor titles on the spin which supplied a wave of footballers.
While that strike rate has decreased at minor level, Corofin still attempt to integrate youngsters into the senior set-up at every opportunity. “We are very lucky that a lot of families are still there,” Ryder says about the links with a Corofin team that won five Galway Championships in the 90s.
“Fathers that played in the 90s, their sons have now come through. For that reason we are very lucky, the Silkes, the Burkes, now their sons have come into the team and have been for the last number of years.
“I think we work hard with our underage structure, fantastic work goes in at underage. People are working, working, it was never as good as it is now. Tomas Greaney is in now too, an ex player, who played in 1998. Tom is driving on the underage with Frank Morris, who is at the head of the coaching. So it is a great time.
“It is the whole idea to bring guys through. If you bring through one player every year that is good. You know it at 14, 15, 16 that he is going to make it, if you nurture that player, while always trying to work with every player involved.”
Those that served the Corofin cause as players are now ready, willing, and able to invest time and energy with juvenile teams. Ryder, who has been a Corofin officer for 27 years, highlights the work being carried about by footballers, who were part of that glorious minor burst.
“When you look at James Lardner, Aidan Donnellan, Ger Comer, these are all ex senior players, who won All Ireland titles,” Ryder states. “They have the underage teams coming through at 12s and 14s, it is great to see these lads giving their time, two or three evenings a week, then maybe more on Saturday mornings to finish it off. Then you have Gary Sice in the Belclare school and Jason Leonard.
“Gary is a great man to drive on young lads and there is no doubt that the five in a row has led to numbers coming out. Our Under 12s we would have 60 young lads training, for a country club to have that at Under 12 is great.
“We are just very lucky at the moment that this happening in the club.”
Ryder remembers the 90s as being a bountiful time for Corofin, who were emerging as a serious force in Galway at every level. Former Donegal and Galway footballer Paul McGettigan, was an influential figure.
“I was very lucky to be with Paul McGettigan at the time, he came in 1992 and Joe Stephens, Patsy Comer, Michael Conlisk, they were a great crew,” Ryder admits.
“Paul McGettigan brought a new voice to the dressing room. He was a great driving force for that team, he is just a fantastic speaker in a dressing room. He is a guy everyone looks up to, a class act. He stayed with the club and, I suppose, we would love to see more of him at the club, even at this stage.”
The past and future will always be discussed in Corofin, but at the moment the focus is St Brigid’s. These clubs have participated in some gripping battles. “We haven't beaten them too many times,” Ryder remarks.
“This will be maybe our third time playing them. They beat us when Karol Mannion scored a great goal in the dying seconds and they beat us in their home ground.
“Last year was the only time we have beaten them, last year in the Connacht Final. This Sunday's game is going to be a different game entirely. 2-13 to 0-5 won't happen again with Ian Kilbride back in the team and Peter Domican back at full back. They are going to be a different team coming to Tuam the next day.
“It will be a tight game, it will be a lot tighter because they are better structured this year than last year. We are expecting a very hard game, that is what they will bring. We are looking forward to the game.” So are neutrals throughout the west.