TWO of the heavyweights of club football – not only in the West of Ireland but in the country – will look to deliver the knockout punch on each other’s provincial title aspirations when they meet in a keenly anticipated Connacht senior club final in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday (2pm).
In the past four years, both St. Brigid’s of Roscommon and Corofin have claimed the ultimate prize in club football on St. Patrick’s Day – flittering the formbook to shreds along the way in defeating Ballymun Kickhams of Dublin and Slaughtneil of Derry in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
The soundbites emerging from the camps have been interesting. They drip with respect. From Corofin’s point of view, they are meeting an outfit which scalped them in provincial deciders in 2006 and 2011 – both by a single point. The Galway champions are wary.
“Yeah, look it, St. Brigid’s, Castlebar and Corofin have all dominated their counties over a few years now and have been involved in Connacht championships. So, these teams are all full of confidence and on any given day, I imagine, any of the three can beat each other. They don’t have any fear for each other,” says Corofin joint captain Ciaran McGrath.
“That will probably be the same the next day. Form will go out the window on Sunday and when that ball is thrown in it will come down to a few tactical switches or a few tactical moves and, most of all, whoever wants to win it that much more.”
While neutrals love to see new teams coming through their county championships, McGrath makes no apologies for Corofin’s triumphs – or, indeed, St. Brigid’s and Castlebar’s successes – believing that by each pushing the other over the last decade it has led to All-Ireland club titles coming West.
“Playing each other and the games being so tight and competitive, you learn so much from it, you improve, and you bring it back to your panel the next year. Sometimes you learn more from those mistakes and those losses in Connacht than what you would through your own county championship.
“That is what I think has happened between the three teams (Corofin, St. Brigid’s and Castlebar). We have learned so much from each other that we have become ultra-competitive and it definitely is a better club championship in Connacht because of it,” he maintains.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.