Corofin have the package to claim seventh Connacht title

READY FOR BATTLE: St Brigid’s Karl Mannion and Corofin’s Gary Sice whose teams will be battling for Connacht club senior football glory at Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile.

WHILE Corofin might carry the favourites tag with them into this weekend’s Connacht club senior football final clash against Roscommon champions, St. Brigid’s, past experiences will prompt the Galway champions to tread very warily at Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday (2pm).

St. Brigid’s have inflicted more than their fair share of misery on Corofin over the past decade edging them out in two provincial deciders in 2006 and 2011.

Corofin’s highly controversial 0-11 to 0-10 defeat to St. Brigid’s in Kiltoom back in November 2011 is still very raw in the memory bank after a number of highly contentious refereeing decisions, while in 2006, a late, late Karol Mannion goal gave the Roscommon champions a dramatic win at Hyde Park.

All history now of course, and on Sunday, Corofin manager, Kevin O’Brien, will be guiding out a team – many of whom are new to the whole experience of a Connacht final – against a well-seasoned Brigid’s outfit.

St. Brigid’s 2-18 to 1-7 semi-final demolition of a weak Aughawillan side has to be taken with a pinch of salt but they had no soft touch in the Roscommon county final when Pearses had them under serious pressure until the closing eight minutes of the match.

Two late goals from defenders Ian Kilbride and Darragh Donnelly eventually helped St. Brigid’s to a 2-14 to 2-7 victory, in what was quite a high-quality game of football.

Centre back Kilbride is one of the potential doubts for Brigid’s as he left for a stint of army duty in the Lebanon after the county final but it can be taken as a ‘given’ that a huge effort will be made to get him back for Sunday’s decider.

Midfielder Garvan Dolan, who missed the Aughawillan match after being red carded in the county final, is also expected to return to the side as is corner forward Cathal McHugh, who also missed the Connacht semi-final.

Brigid’s have a good blend of youth and experience – they’re also not a club or a team that’s afraid to win – and they’ll feel that they’re in with a fighting chance of upsetting the odds on Sunday.

Darragh Donnelly, Ian Kilbride, Garvan Dolan, Mark Daly, Darren Dolan, Senan Kilbride and Karol Mannion backbone the team with Niall Grehan also back in contention after recovering from recent injury troubles.

Corofin eventually did the business against Castlebar Mitchels in the Connacht semi-final at McHale Park – but only just – and while they were mightily happy to come away with an extra-time victory, they had their worries too over the course of the 80 minutes.

Ronan Steede was badly missed out of midfield when he had to periodically withdraw due to a recurring blood injury while the Corofin attack ran into real trouble during the first 20 minutes of the second half when Castlebar defended in numbers.

Corofin though were very neat in the first half, kicking six points and no wides, but yet their interval lead of just two points (6-4) could easily have been wiped out and surpassed, if Castlebar’s normally reliable freetaker, Neil Douglas, had been on-song.

Full preview in this week’s Connacht Tribune