By Harry King
It’s a freezing cold Sunday afternoon in late November in Tuam Stadium. Whilst the spectators can’t feel their fingers, the sun is out, and it is a near perfect day for football. I turn to an elderly Corofin man sitting beside me. He can’t believe what he is watching. He knew Corofin’s fantastic run for the past two and a half years would come to an end someday, but he didn’t think it would be today. Tuam Stars were by far the better team, playing football at pace and with a swagger. They looked like the team that were two-time reigning All-Ireland Club champions. But, as many great champions do under pressure, Corofin stayed calm and focused on the scoreboard instead of the clock. Thanks to a last minute free, they somehow managed to draw the game, forcing it to go to a replay in the same location next week. I look over to the man beside me again, and he stands up with a smile on his face, a sparkle in his eyes, as he knows his team has been let off the hook in some ways. He also knows that his team will play better next week. A sign of a great team is when they don’t play their best and still grind out a result. Tuam were bitterly disappointed and looked like they had lost the game altogether.
The following Sunday, Corofin won their seventh Galway Senior Football Championship in a row. Despite finding themselves down at the interval, a late burst saw them see off Tuam by three points. They went on to secure their third All–Ireland Championship in a row in an early All–Ireland final. They saw off a very determined Kilcoo side. The men from Down pushed them hard and came a lot closer to victory than Corofin’s opponents of the previous two years. In a very physical match up in Croke Park, Corofin wrote their names in the history books once again. Kilcoo deserve a lot of credit, they weren’t intimidated at all. Kilcoo is a small town that you would drive through in a matter of minutes. They won their first Ulster Championship this year and played some very attractive football. Their counter attacking punished Corofin, especially in the first half. However, in extra time, Corofin showed they can adapt to whatever they have to do to win a game.
They are now rightly being compared to the greatest teams in the history of football, including the dominant Kerry team of the late seventies and early eighties and the current Dublin team. In terms of their style, they can certainly be compared to Dublin. Their attacking mindset, running off the shoulder and their kick passing is a pleasure to watch (if your team isn’t playing against them). Both Dublin and Corofin have proved time and time again that they can adapt to whatever is thrown at them. However long both dynasties will last remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, Corofin have created history once again. A lot of credit has been given to their underage structure for the supply of tremendous talent. As I watched them win their third All-Ireland in a row, I thought back to the man smiling beside me in Tuam Stadium. He wasn’t smiling just because of the result, but because he knew that he had once again the pleasure of watching one of the great GAA teams of all time.