Kevin O'Brien enjoying Corofin role
By Cian O'Connell
Remaining loyal is part and parcel of the Corofin story, and manager Kevin O'Brien captures the best of the famous Galway club.
O'Brien soldiered in the Corofin jersey and quickly found himself involved in coaching and selector roles. Inevitably O'Brien assumed the mantle of manager and leads Corofin into Saturday's intriguing AIB All Ireland Club Final against Nemo Rangers at Croke Park.
O'Brien was a selector under Stephen Rochford for three years before taking charge. "It’s been brilliant," O'Brien says about the past half decade. "The three years with Stephen was brilliant. We had great success during that time as well and we have carried that on, which is great as well.
"It is one of the things we tried to do when we brought in Stephen, to try to put a foundation in the club where we could carry it on when Stephen or whoever that person was left.
"I think we have done that and I am very fortunate with the team I have working around me. There is five of us in the management team and then the support structures around that is incredible.
"Everyone is willing to lend a hand. For me, a someone from the club, it is great to have that support. It’s really, really good. Everyone is looking to help you out. Anything they ever asked of them the club has always delivered. The people outside have always delivers as well. That’s great reassurance. It’s great to have."
That type of commitment makes Corofin a remarkable club in the west. One of the main sources of encouragement is how Corofin constantly integrate emerging footballers into the senior panel.
"I think we have definitely seen that this year," O'Brien admits. "Maybe that was something last year going into the semi final, while we had a lot of players there we had some injuries.
"Maybe some of the younger guys needed that year to bed in. They have really pushed on this year. The Kieran Bradys, even Colin Brady coining in this year has become a key player, Dylan McHugh.
"These guys are coming in and making impacts. That’s very important for us. Maybe last year they were a year younger and didn’t have that confidence and experience.
"You gain experience all the time, every game. They were pivotal for us in the semi final and final of that Connacht series.
"They came in with big impacts in games where the teams were coming back at us and between injuries and that kind of stuff we were probably struggling in games. Particularly in the Connacht Final they really pushed us on."
O'Brien is expecting an 'open' and attractive encounter against Nemo. "I think all year the games I’ve seen of them, they’ve played very open game, very much like ourselves," O'Brien remarks.
"They have a lot of talented experienced players, they have a great platform to do that. They have great speed in the youth and they’ve the likes of Tomás Ó Sé and these players, Kerrigan as well.
"They have great experience, a bit like ourselves. They are a bit like a carbon copy of what we are about. They play football and move the ball. They’ll be looking forward to it."
O'Se's role in the recent Nemo story has been watched from the west. "Yeah, really when you look at the game the last day, when they needed someone to stand up he really stood up," O'Brien adds about O'Se's influence with the Cork club.
"He won a very important break just after half time in the middle of the pitch, got a free but got up and drove on and they got a great score from it. He is a great leader for them, and I’m sure a great man to have in the dressing room as well.
"We all love to see the Ó Sés playing football. He epitomises everything about the game and how it should be played. I’d be a huge fan of his as well, probably not the next day, but when he played for Kerry. He is a beautiful footballer to watch."