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Corofin seeking ways to improve for heavyweight battle with Roscommon rivals

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Corofin’s Daithi Burke who will be a key figure for the Galway champions in Sunday's Connacht Club senior football final against St Brigid's.

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.

CITY TRIBUNE

St Thomas’ rewrite modern-day record books with thrilling final replay triumph

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St Thomas’ Mark Caufield and Kieran Hanrahan of Loughrea in a race for possession during Sunday's Galway Senior Hurling Final replay at Pearse Stadium. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

St Thomas’ 1-15

Loughrea 0-17

John McIntyre at Pearse Stadium

THERE is no doubt about it anymore. St Thomas’ are the most successful team to have graced the hurling fields of Galway in over half a century.

True, they still have ground to make up on Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna, in particular, on the All-Ireland stage, but the men from Peterswell and Kilchreest continue to rewrite modern-day records on the domestic scene.

Not since Turloughmore in 1965 has a team won five county senior hurling titles on the trot, and the fact that St Thomas’ were pushed to the limit to emulate that achievement only adds lustre to a remarkable sequence of big-day triumphs.

Sunday’s replay at Pearse Stadium had a lot to live up to from the drawn final the previous week, but the second helpings served up by St Thomas’ and Loughrea were every bit as appetising as first-time around. This was another classic when once again you couldn’t be sure about the outcome until the very end.

St Thomas’ have never been taken to the brink like this before in a Galway final. For them to be still champions after two epic contests not only underlines their quality, but also the team’s resilience and redoubtable spirit.

A gallant Loughrea threw everything at the title-holders for the second time in eight days. Playing some glorious hurling and totally committed, they still couldn’t shift Conor Cooney and his colleagues from their lofty perch.

Oh, they had chances to take Sunday’s replay to extra-time, and they will be haunted by late efforts from Neil Keary (twice) and Jamie Ryan which drifted wide of the posts. It was probably the only period over the two matches that Loughrea’s nerve failed them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Treviso visit the Sportsground in what is a must-win clash for home side

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It is not the game you’d have picked out as being a potential season-defining one for Connacht, but defeat at home to Treviso this Saturday (3.15pm) would as good as end the domestic season for the western province with only three chocolates eaten from the Advent Calendar.

Connacht go into the game on the back of yet another game in which they flattered to deceive, a poor display against Munster undoing a lot of the good work of a run of three wins in four games that proceeded last weekend’s trip to Thomond Park.

Head coach, Peter Wilkins, says the players had a tough and hard-hitting review of that game on Monday, and that while they will take the lessons learned from their displays, it is in the past now, with all the focus now on tomorrow’s game.

“The players have been in a really positive headspace, it was a really constructive, but I would say also a confronting review [of the Munster game], and that is what the needed, players taking ownership of mistakes and decision making.

“It is one thing standing up in front of the group and saying ‘I own that’ but it is also about coming up with solutions, how you as an individual or a team can do better next time, they didn’t need picking up emotionally, but there was a fiery determination to do better next time,” he said.

Wilkins, who took over from Andy Friend as head coach ahead of the start of this season, admits that the performance and result against Munster “wasn’t good enough, I think the result and the scoreline reflects that”, but there is no sense of panic in, or pressure on, the squad.

“I don’t think there is an increasing pressure,” he said when asked if Connacht were now entering the realm of must-win games.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Thompson the hero as Salthill pull out all the stops in victory

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Salthill Knocknacarra's Lauren O’Donnell secures possession ahead of Chloe Johnston of O’Dwyer's during Sunday's All-Ireland Club Junior Ladies Football semi-final at the Prairie. Photos: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Salthill/Knocknacarra 1-7

 O’Dwyer’s 1-6

DARREN KELLY IN THE PRAIRIE

SALTHILL/Knocknacarra’s tales of achievement across all four codes in the last 12 months reached another milestone last Sunday as their ladies football team qualified for the All-Ireland Junior Final.

Last December, the senior hurlers became Connacht champions before the camogie side marched on to a national decider in Croke Park last March.

John O’Mahony’s footballers were just one point short of Moycullen in October’s senior football final. But as the countdown to Christmas began with Friday’s Toy Show, the ladies footballers are 60 minutes away from the club’s biggest present since 2006.

The city side won’t grace Croke Park like their camogie counterparts but overcame torrential conditions to reach to win an All-Ireland semi-final and will face Cork’s Naomh Abán on Sunday week.

Lauren O’Donnell’s goal was the first half highlight as the sun and blue skies graced the occasion, next door to the county senior hurling final replay. But Mother Nature turned vicious upon Loughrea’s defeat in Pearse Stadium and with a half-hour later start, this semi-final felt the full force of the sudden change in weather.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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