Inside Track with John McIntyre
WE are slightly jumping the gun in looking ahead to the All-Ireland Club finals at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day, but the annual pilgrimage to the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham National Hunt festival next week means that the Inside Track will be going into temporary cold storage.
Only once before have Galway captured the hurling and football titles in the same year – Portumna and Salthill/Knocknacarra pulling off an historic double on a bitterly cold March day in 2006 – but that opportunity will again present itself on Sunday week when Corofin and St Thomas’ go to war in pursuit of the Andy Merrigan and Tommy Moore Cups respectively.
Remarkably, between them, the Galway teams have previously contested four All-Ireland Club finals and have still to be beaten. Corofin’s big-day record at GAA headquarters is obviously the more impressive as they have contested three deciders – 1997/98, 2014/15 and 2017/18 – and as reigning champions will bid to break new ground by retaining the title at the expense of Dr Crokes.
It should be a fascinating struggle between the last two winners of the championship – the Kerry title holders overcoming Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final of 2016/17 at the Gaelic Grounds when stealing a march in the opening quarter. They comfortably ended the dream run of Longford’s Mullinalaghta last month despite conceding two early goals and having county player Johnny Buckley sent off in the opening half.
Dr Crokes have successfully Buckley’s red card for that off-the-ball incident and a measure of their overall attacking prowess is that Colm ‘Gooch’ Copper is no longer able to claim a starting place in a forward line which is also blessed with quality talent in the shape of Tony Brosnan, Kieran O’Leary and David Shaw. They also possess a terrific counter-attacking defender in Gavin White.
Corofin, however, will surely draw inspiration from their magnificent performance in dismantling Nemo Rangers at Croke Park nearly 12 months ago. It was a breathtaking exhibition and left the famed Cork club chasing shadows. Those mighty long servants, Kieran Fitzgerald and Gary Sice, may be a year older but remain fiercely competitive.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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