Connacht champions Corofin remain focused
By Cian O’Connell
A cold wind blew through Tuam Stadium, but Corofin didn’t seem to care in the slightest. Another Connacht title safely secured following a drama laden day in the north Galway town.
While a five point lead was frittered away in the closing minutes of normal time, Corofin delivered in extra-time. That a host of emerging players such as Dylan McHugh and Ciaran Brady led the charge merely added to the sense of satisfaction.
Corofin mightn’t be winning minor or under 21 titles in Galway with such frequency, but talented footballers are still being produced.
“You can go back to when we won the nine minors in a row, our senior team was good at the time, it took players a while to make the breakthrough,” Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien says.
“I think that at the moment we are maybe not as successful at underage, but you still have good footballers coming in to a good set-up.
“They are all adding which is very, very important. We are lucky to have a great squad of players, who are all committed. It is great to see the younger guys coming in learning off the older guys, it is something that makes you look forward to the future too.”
How they survived initially before soaring against Castlebar augurs well. “Yeah, going back to the Castlebar game it was a seesaw of emotions,” O’Brien reflects.
“We were playing very well, went five points up and in the last 15 minutes we couldn't get scores on the board, albeit I think we were playing well creating some good chances. It just didn't come off for us.
“That the lads delivered in extra-time was brilliant, we were really delighted for lads that got their chance. They came out, showed what they are made of and put their shoulder to the wheel.
“It was really, really impressive from the group's perspective to get over the line. Castlebar are a fine side so it was great to get a victory.”
Now Corofin face an awkward assignment at McGovern Park, Ruislip on Sunday against London standard bearers Fulham Irish.
“Definitely it is different,” O’Brien acknowledges. “In fairness to the club they have been a great support with that. We have left all the logistics to the Club Chairman Michael Ryder and the people that support him like Jimmy McHugh, the Secretary, they have looked after all of that in terms of the logistics side of it.
“We have really just focused on the game, but it is something different. You have to take it that your preparation is slightly different with the travel and you are playing a team you don't know a lot about, but it is an All Ireland Quarter-Final, if you told me at the start of the year that would we playing it, I would be delighted.”
Corofin will be mentally prepared according to O’Brien. “They are a very good side, a lot of their players have played at inter-county,” the Corofin boss states.
“Some of them have All Ireland medals under their belt, some of them have played in the Galway Championship. It is funny because at this time of the year a lot can depend on the weather.
“If you go by the Galway Hurling Final here last Sunday, it was like it was in the middle of summer. The weather will have a bearing on it aswell, but the pitch seems to be in good nick.”
Since the 90s winning cups at local, provincial, and national level has been central to the Corofin story. O’Brien clever management has Corofin nicely placed once more. “We are fortunate that we have been very successful in Galway in the last few years,” O’Brien admits.
“That is always our first goal, to win the Galway Championship. Everything after that is a bonus. I've said that a good few times. We are probably fortunate to be playing in a very competitive Connacht Championship. To get out of that as Connacht champions is excellent when you consider the opposition.
“At this stage every step now is a big step so you have to focus on it each step at a time. That is something we always try to instil in the group.
“Game one, you always have to win that to get to game six or seven. We are really looking forward to it and it is great to still be in the thick of the action in December.” Regardless of the month, Corofin will always be relevant.