Corofin’s Class of 98 the inspiration for future sides

Jason Leonard in action for Corofin against Mountbellew-Moylough’s Paul Donnellan during the county final replay in November.
Jason Leonard in action for Corofin against Mountbellew-Moylough’s Paul Donnellan during the county final replay in November.

He was just four years old at the time, but Corofin wing forward Jason Leonard believes that the club’s victory in the All-Ireland club final of 1998 still resonates very strongly in the team’s dressing room.

It is particularly memorable as it was the same year that Galway came out of the blocks to win their first All-Ireland in 32 years, and many of the Corofin played a pivotal part of that success.

That team, he believes, became the inspiration for the incredible success that was to follow for Corofin in the years after when they went on to win a further 12 county titles and two more All-Ireland clubs

“Looking back as a child when I was a seven or eight years old, it was always a dream to represent your club and then get to Croke Park for All-Ireland final day. If you are not looking forward to it, then you are probably in the wrong game.

“I was born in 1994 so I was brought to Croke Park in 1998 when Corofin won that famous All-Ireland but obviously I have only vague memories of that occasion.

“The players on that team have left an incredible legacy and they proved for this generation of players that days like this are possible. And it still gives the drive to be back in Croke Park for the second year in succession”, Leonard said.

That team that defeated Dungiven of Derry was made up of household names such as Martin McNamara, Ollie Burke, Ray Silke, Gerry Burke, Aidan Donnellan, Shane Conlisk, Michael Donnellan, Trevor Burke, Eddie Steede, and Derek Reilly.

But in the current side, he spoke about the influence and inspiration that has been provided by some of the veterans on the side like Kieran Fitzgerald, Gary Sice and Kieran McGrath.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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