Enjoyment and skill key for Corofin
By Cian O'Connell
In Corofin football dominates the landscape and agenda. It is a way of life.
So Kevin O'Brien constantly acknowledges being Corofin manager is a privileged position to hold.
Throughout the decades Corofin have crafted winning teams, but growing up attaining silverware isn't the most important aspect. The basic skills of the game are taught. Manufacturing footballers capable of kicking off both feet and gathering possession is the aim.
Even on the eve of a third AIB All Ireland Club Final on the spin O'Brien acknowledges the joy in the journey.
"We are very fortunate to be here and that our families allow us, that friends support us in what we do," O'Brien says days ahead of the decider. "That enables us to walk out the door on a Tuesday evening, on Fridays, on Sundays when there is other stuff to be done. Our families support us and the parish supports us.
"It is a great place to be, it is a great place to come into. We've had fantastic times out on that pitch. Whether it is raining or not we just love playing the football.
"Once you hop into the car you are in a different place. It is a special time. You can see that in Corofin.
"You are always asked to enjoy yourself, to try to express yourself as best as you can on the pitch. You can see that on a Tuesday night.
"The lads just enjoy it. There is no pressure on anyone to perform. We just ask them to go out, to work hard. If it is not going for you that day somebody else will do it."
A large rural club with a tight knit community has been established. That respect for football and sport has been passed quietly through the generations.
Ultimately Corofin are a stellar example of what can be achieved through harmony and not allowing too many players slip away. Sunday's Croke Park encounter against Kilcoo is the next challenge to embrace, but Corofin will always plan and plot for the future.
"I think everyone is willing to work, if you go to our Under 6 training on a Saturday morning or the Under 10s a lot of the ex players are coming back now to do the coaching led by Frank Morris," O'Brien remarks.
"All of that is co-ordinated very well together. You have people in here on a Tuesday night making sandwiches for us or a cup of tea, to help out in any way they can. I have been fortunate in these lads few years that anything you ask the people to do, it is just done.
"There is a real parish sense and sense of pride. It is encouraged at underage to learn the skills, there is no pressure on anyone about winning.
"That is probably the key to our success as a club and we have just been fortunate to have that success on the pitch."
So O'Brien is in charge of a backroom team, who try to restrict coaching sessions to an hour.
"We try to limit our training sessions to about 60-70 minutes max," O'Brien explains. "That is what we are aiming to achieve. We are fortunate that we have good coaches so our transitions from A to B is probably quick.
"We try to limit it as much as possible. Players don't like to be here that long. I just think if we are organised we can make it as seamless as possible that you don't have lads hanging around the place. That is key to it, do your warm up and off you go. It is key just being organised.
"As I've said already the backroom team I have are phenomenal. We just try to keep that flow to it and the players like that."
Throughout O'Brien's tenure Corofin have sought to integrate young players into the senior set-up. In Kieran Fitzgerald's underage career Corofin won nine Galway minor titles on the spin.
The strike rate isn't as high at that level now, but crucially the ability to unearth and develop senior performers endures.
Colin Brady's display against Nemo Rangers' Paul Kerrigan illustrates the value of being patient. "I think it is important and Colin is probably the best example that is there," O'Brien replies.
"He has been getting in, then unfortunate to lose out and getting in again. I think this summer we got a lot of experience into those guys.
"Darragh Silke, Ross Mahon, a few more of those guys. If you get that you can rely on Colin to come in the last day to put in such a big performance for us.
"I keep saying it, but he is an example of how strong our panel is. Bringing in Dylan (Wall) the last day for example also stood us well. It is important to keep the whole thing moving. You can't guarantee anyone their place."
Almost unnoticed Ronan Steede, Ian Burke, Liam Silke, and the Farragher brothers have gone from being youngsters in the panel to occupying valuable leadership roles.
"Yeah, I think those guys and Conor Cunningham, those lads are the real drivers behind it all, led by the elder guys," O'Brien reflects.
"Everyone has bought into the process that we do. Young guys who come in are really engaged in that. We try to bring in some young guys every year just to mix it up and to see if they have the appetite for what we do.
"Credit to the lads in the last few years they have shown that. We have the likes of Matthew Cooley and they are all buying into that. It keeps everyone on their toes, that is the most important thing, and it makes the panel."
The bigger picture always counts in Corofin with the past, present, and future all carrying equal relevance.