Corofin have won all the main prizes in club football. Their focus now is on breaking new ground. The club has never managed five successive Galway SFC titles.
That’s the goal tomorrow. Plotting their downfall is a man for whom Corofin will always be number one.
Late last year the Mountbellew-Moylough players approached the club executive with a desire to see Michael Donnellan installed as senior manager. The outgoing management had steered the club to the 2015 county final and the 2016 semi. On both occasions, Corofin ended their campaigns.
Donnellan was a free agent having called time on a three-year spell as Moycullen boss where he brought the club from intermediate to senior and kept them there. The offer came from Mountbellew-Moylough, with Donnellan agreeable.
Tomorrow at Tuam Stadium (4pm), Mountbellew-Moylough bid for a first county title in 31 years. Their manager knows it’ll be a somewhat surreal experience given some of his happiest memories were spent wearing the saffron and green of their opponents.
Donnellan broke onto the Corofin senior team in 1990. The following year the club won a first Galway championship since 1977. He bowed out in 2002, stepping away with seven county, three Connacht, and an All-Ireland club medal - he was centre-forward on St Partick’s Day 1998 when they overcame Dublin’s Erin’s Isle to collect the Andy Merrigan Cup. He did his bit on the line, too, a selector to Brian Silke when the club won county title number 14 in 2011.
All of that will be left at the gate in Tuam Stadium.
“I would be keen to stress that I am a Corofin man, first and foremost. Always will be,” says the Mountbellew boss.
“Corofin is in my blood. My brother, Aidan, coaches at underage level in Corofin, my two nephews and three nieces play with Corofin.
“The success we had in the nineties is a huge part of my life. They are brilliant, fantastic memories. But having said that, when you’re involved with a particular group of players, you’re doing the best you can to help them to perform to the best they can.
"This Mountbellew team are an incredible bunch. I just hope they get the performance they deserve based on the effort they put in.”
In recent years, that performance eluded them when Corofin sat across the ring. They were eight points short 12 months ago, 10 the year previous. What has chairman Paul Collevy optimistic that 2017 could be different is the underage success of late.
Three North board minor titles were collected between 2014 and ‘16, with the county minor title secured in 2014, their first in 46 years. This was followed by U21 glory in 2016. Eight of Donnellan’s starting team is U21, included in that is young footballer of the year nominee Michael Daly and Galway U21 full-forward Eoin Finnerty.
At the other end of the spectrum is the evergreen Joe Bergin who is hoping his 20th season with the club’s senior team will end with that elusive county medal.
“The underage is in such rude health that if we could get over the line on Sunday, we could win another few in the next couple of years,” says Collevy.
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