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Jason Leonard celebrates after Corofin's 2019 Galway SFC Final replay win over Tuam Stars.
Jason Leonard celebrates after Corofin's 2019 Galway SFC Final replay win over Tuam Stars.

Jason Leonard: 'We're going to play with a smile on our face'

By Cian O'Connell

To play football with substance and style remains the Corofin mantra.

Since emerging on to the Corofin panel in 2012, Leonard has been involved in a distinguished spell for the proud Galway club.

Ultimately, though, Kevin O'Brien's Corofin will bring a purposeful and positive approach to Sunday's AIB All Ireland Club Final against Kilcoo.

A winning habit exists in the club and a successful culture established.

"I suppose the main focus at the moment Under 6s and Under 8s is to simply enjoy it and learn as much as you can," Leonard says about Corofin's methods. "But ultimately to improve your skills. Winning is never a focus underage, we're always just looking to enjoy it. 

"Kevin will preach that to us that we're going to go here in Croke Park and we're going to play with a smile on our face. 

"That was the focus last year and we’ll go to try to enjoy it and just express ourselves.

"Sometimes if you're too caught up with things you know you can be frozen on the day but you know we go out to play like it's our back garden. 

"We'll try to go out to just just kick around and see. Now be under no illusions that we'll bring bring a level of aggression and maybe organisation and all that behind it too, but you go out to enjoy it because you may never play in Croke Park again. That’s the attitude we’ll have."

It is a philosophy that has served Corofin well during the past decade with Leonard delighted to be part of a talented minor crew eight years ago.

Jason Leonard is an important player for Corofin.
Jason Leonard is an important player for Corofin.

"A lot of us came through from that a minor team," Leonard states.

"It wouldn't be what it is now without the leaders that we had at the time, who are still they're driving it. The Kieran Fitzgeralds, the Kieran McGraths and Gary Sices who are driving it constantly. We didn't win much the whole way up.

"Then all of a sudden we had these leaders here just - the only thing they knew was winning then, and they really drove it you know on, I suppose we're just learning off those lads."

Leonard's sister Tracey is one of the most gifted Ladies Footballers in the country and valuable lessons were learned by her younger brother growing up.

"Definitely and even I remember manys the time our Under 14s would have played their Under 16 Ladies and might have given us a trimming once or twice," Leonard recalls.

"Yeah, no, definitely we grew up constantly playing in the backyard and even with the other Leonards over the road. I suppose it's all we know at home and it's always talked about at home. It’s definitely to the fore at home all the time.

She's actually one of the people who most motivated me in terms of always stressing the importance.

"She came into the Corofin senior ladies team when she was much younger maybe 14 or 15. They were on the back of winning five or six in a row.

"She always warns me, that these days won’t always be here all the time. Whatever period of success we have at the moment will not last.

"It will come to an end, so she's always warning me to win as much as you can, when you can."

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