*A strong championship from Cillian McGroary would aid Corofin’s chances of making the knockout stages. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
REIGNING CLARE intermediate football champions, Corofin are returning to the senior ranks with a pep in their step and this bounce will leave them with no fear.
Last November it looked like Corofin were going to fall short in the Clare IFC final for the second year on the trot, however in the seven minutes of additional time, goals from Damien O’Loughlin and Diarmuid Cahill turned the game on its head and resulted in them edging out a dramatic 2-12 2-10 win over Kildysart to claim the title for the fourth time.
More silverware has followed since then with the club which has produced Clare’s only football All Star in Seamus Clancy (1992), defeating Lissycasey in the Garry Cup final last month on a scoreline of 1-17 1-13.
They impressed throughout the Garry Cup with an unbeaten run, joint manager Douglas Hurley acknowledged this has strengthened self-belief in the squad but it goes without saying that the league run will soon be forgotten once the championship kicks into action. “We know league form is one thing and championship is different. We’re underdogs in this group but we have to up it a few notches to compete, if we come out of group, we won’t fear anyone in the knockout stages. Injuries will be key for us, we have thirteen dual players going week in week out, injuries will be key”.
Injuries have already ruled out for this weekend Conor Leen who missed last year’s intermediate run and centre back O’Loughlin whose lung-busting run before burying the ball in the back of the net in last year’s final was a pivotal reason for their promotion.
Hurley added, “If we have a full side, we can put it up to up anyone, we’ve already been out two weeks in a row in the hurling, it’s how we react to the injuries if we pick them up. If we played championship a week or two after the win over Lissycasey I’d be more buoyant, we haven’t seen as much of the lads in the last few weeks due to the hurling championship”.
Corofin claimed the intermediate title in 2015, having fell short in the decider a year previous to Wolfe Tones. This year’s promotion is some bit different in that there is more expected of the Corofin side given the amount of players that have featured on county panels. The co-owner of estate agent DNG O’Sullivan Hurley said they are continuing to build towards the future. “We’re a very young team, our Munster campaign didn’t end so well last but it added a lot to us, we’re definitely much stronger as a group, we have ten U21s or thereabouts, they’re all improving, we had three players still minor playing last year who are a year older. We’ll be getting stronger for the next few years I’d be hoping”.
Football is not the only sport in which the young guns are used to success with many of them collecting two Minor A and one U21a hurling championships as part of the Corofin/Ruan amalgamation. The Cahill brothers, Gearoid and Diarmuid, Clare hurler Robin Mounsey, Cillian McGroary, Kevin Keane and Marc O’Loughlin are among those with the growing medal collections.
Competing and succeeding at a higher level does help when it comes to the football, Douglas acknowledged. An even bigger boost is their ability to call on former All Star nominee Jamie Malone for the entire season, he missed the bulk of their championship last year through injury and will be available from the get-go as they lock horns with St Joseph’s Miltown this weekend.
Dual-commitments can be a headache for any management and indeed players, it may require Douglas and joint manager Geoff O’Sullivan to reach for a few panadols but it is a common denominator for all teams in their competitive group. “Éire Óg and Miltown are on the same boat but we’ve a particularly small crop to pick from, we can’t have one session without them (dual-players), it’s a problem we have to deal with. They’ve had two championship matches in hurling, they won’t be cold or shouldn’t be”.
Management: Douglas Hurley (joint manager), Geoff O’Sullivan (joint manager), Donnacha Kelleher, Eoin Keane, Vincent McCarthy.
Captain: Fionn Clancy
Key Player: Jamie Malone
One to Watch: Marc O’Loughlin
Fresh Blood: James Tierney
Departures Gate: Eoin Clancy and Cillian Clancy (both injured)
Last season’s run: Crowned Clare IFC with a dramatic final win over Kildysart, defeated in Munster final by Na Gaeil of Kerry.
Rnd 1 vs St Joseph’s Miltown
Rnd 2 vs St Breckans
Rnd 3 vs Éire Óg