Corofin boss O'Brien delighted to secure another AIB All Ireland title
By Cian O’Connell
Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien was delighted with the courage and character his accomplished team demonstrated under pressure at Croke Park.
For the third year in a row Corofin collected the Andy Merrigan Cup at GAA headquarters, but they survived a demanding assignment against Kilcoo.
In extra-time, though, Corofin struck 1-5 without reply to take control with O’Brien stressing the importance of the depth in the Galway and Connacht champions panel.
“I think what we have achieved is probably fantastic, but the lads showed great character out there,” O’Brien reflected.
“I think the way we won that final is as sweet as any of the other victories we had over the last two years. The lads showed, and a lot of the lads in Galway know this, that they can grind out results no matter what way you try to play against us. I think that is fantastic.
“I've probably said this, our panel has been key. The lads coming in were absolutely fantastic. I knew going into extra-time that we had that panel and they had that experience. It told and full credit to them all, I hope they get their rewards for it now.”
Having defeated Slaughtneil, Nemo Rangers, and Dr Crokes by an aggregate total of 37 points in their previous three deciders, O’Brien acknowledged this was a seriously demanding encounter.
“In the other finals we went out, we were let play football,” O’Brien remarked. “That was the way the other teams set up. Today was probably a bit more defensively. It was hard to get scores out there. Kilcoo are very well drilled and set up, they try to hit you on the break.
“We probably managed that. We went through phases, they went through phases. We were happy in the end to see the full-time whistle. We knew going in that once we set up after full time that our panel would be strong.”
Staying cool and composed following Kilcoo’s brave rally to force extra-time was critical according to O’Brien.
“It was important, we went in after full time to get everyone calm,” O’Brien admitted. “I suppose everyone wants to give their input at that stage so it is important to get a calm dressing room.
“From a management point of view we went through each player we had to see who had legs and who could add a lot of value. That is what we looked at.
“We went out, our philosophy was to go really hard at them, to play football. The lads did that really well. I think we got 1-4 in the first half, the goal was probably the key score.”
Corofin became the first team to win three AIB All Ireland club titles in a row, but O’Brien is adamant that his players weren’t bothered by that in the build up.
“Most of the talk came from yourselves, we didn't talk about it in house as we said,” O’Brien replied. “You are probably bored listening to that, but that is the truth. We have a philosophy where we focus game by game. That has helped us going in to achieve this. It was a key focus, particularly with the quick turnaround from the last day, that we just had to prepare.
“Once the semi-final was over we met on that Sunday morning and by Sunday evening there was no more talk about the semi-final. That was probably key. It wasn't something new for us to do, just a game on game approach.”