Corofin's hunger for silverware remains ravenous
By John Harrington
Corofin’s appetite for success borders on gluttony.
Since 2008, the Galway club have won 10 county senior football championships, six Connacht titles, and three All-Ireland titles.
Their mettle was seriously tested in Galway this year, but, when it came to the crunch in the drawn and replayed county final against Tuam Stars, they proved their desire remains undiminished.
They can win another Connacht title on Sunday when they play Roscommon champions Padraig Pearses in the provincial final, and you wouldn’t bet against them.
Nor would you be surprised if they ultimately become the first club to win three All-Ireland club football championships in a row.
Where do they source their hunger from? Why is it that sustained success seems to in no way dull their edge?
“Past All-Irelands are never spoken about in the group,” explains their longest serving player, Kieran Fitzgerald.
“The Crokes game (last year’s All-Ireland Final), it's forgotten about. Lads are really driving it on.
“We know that we're in a particular period where we have a good group of players - they're eager, young and hungry. They drive it themselves.
“As a club, we want for nothing. It is enjoyable and there's a good balance. It's not the inter-county scene, it's a club scene.
“Training is enjoyable. It's not as atritional as inter-county. We're doing drills that we've been doing since underage. There's nothing technical about it.
“Players are really pushing it. They are looking at the underage, Salthill are coming really strong, Claregalway, Oranmore - it's not going to last forever. Right here, right now, we're going to push it hard as we can.”
This Corofin team doesn’t just win, it wins with style.
Their attacking, skilful brand of football is a joy to behold at times, and Fitzgerald believes it also helps to keep the players motivated because it’s as enjoyable to play as it is to watch.
“Yeah, training is enjoyable, to be honest with you, and it’s not overly technical,” he said. “Some of the drills that we’re doing right now are drills that I was doing when I was U14.
“We’re kicking the ball as much as possible, playing as many games as possible. 7s football is a big part of our club, we play it regularly at training, we always send a team to the Kilmacud 7s. during the summer we’re always playing 7s football, you’d get as much contact as possible.
“You could play a 15-a-side game and get 5 touches, you could play a 7-a-side game and get 30/40 touches over the course of seven minutes.
“Football is enjoyable condition-wise if you try and get all that through football.
“We’re not alone in doing that but it helps if you’re going training that you know you’re going to be playing ball because that’s what you want to do rather than being flogged.
“Some nights aren’t that nice going training, you’re looking at the wind and rain across the floodlights and at least you know you’re going to play a bit of ball.
“And it’s short and snappy, an hour and ten, no longer than that. It makes a difference when you’re doing it a long time rather than two or three hour sessions and meetings and stuff. So it has worked.”
“There are standards that are expected too. In fairness, we have 30-plus guys and the commitment is massive, lads driving across the country to make training in Galway at 7:30pm and then back up again to Dublin or whatever.”
None are more committed than Fitzgerald himself. He turns 39 in January, but he looks fitter now than ever and he remains a rock in the Corofin full-back line.
Many presumed he would bow out on a high note after winning Corofin’s All-Ireland Final victory over Dr. Crokes last February, but Fitzgerald’s competitive fire is still burning bright.
“Some people say you’re 38 and you’re playing football, how do you do it?
“But I’m playing with a club that’s been successful. If you can stay injury free, it’s not that hard.
“It’s the guys that are struggling in clubs that are fighting relegation, and are just maintaining, they’re my age, they’re the lads that really deserve the credit!
“Injuries will play an awful bit part in it. Right here, right now, I’m relatively OK.
The last few years. The Nemo final and the Crokes final, it’s just been a continuation, we’ve been going for the last 24 months or whatever. I just didn’t get off the train, as they say.
“Obviously, at my age, I’m 39 in January, it’s always something that’s in the back of your mind. But that was, the way it set up probably helped me.”
Sunday, November 24
Connacht club SFC final
Corofin (Galway) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon), Tuam Stadium, 2pm - Deferred coverage on TG4