Regardless of whether it is Nemo Rangers or Clonmel Commercials that go on to meet Corofin in the All-Ireland semi-final, Munster’s next club representatives on the national stage, at senior level, will need to keep Liam Silke on a tight rein.
The 25-year-old might wear the No 4 jersey, but Silke has scored 5-5 across the Galway and Connacht championships this season.
His most recent major was a hugely influential score as Corofin defeated Pádraig Pearses of Roscommon in the provincial decider last Sunday, 1-10 to 0-7.
You could argue, at this point, that defences have been naïve in allowing a roving corner-back such scope that he can punish them so severely, but Silke seems to have a golden knack of supplementing Corofin’s attack at the most opportune of moments in their matches.
Neither of the Munster finalists are giving a meeting with Corofin a second thought at present, but if Nemo are to prevail in the provincial showpiece, one would be hopeful, from a Leeside perspective, that the likes of Silke will not be afforded such leverage in an All-Ireland semi-final.
After the game last Sunday, Silke outlined how physically taxing their victory over the Roscommon champions actually was, as Kevin O’Brien’s outfit navigated their way to further silverware, yet again.
“We are playing the winners of the Munster final but it is coming round a little quicker that we are used to this year,” Silke stated.
It’s on the fifth of January. We will celebrate for a few days now, but we’ll get the heads down quickly to prepare for an All-Ireland semi-final.
“It was a very physical game to play. You saw the hits that were going in and all the cards being given out emphasise how tough it was. We are just lucky that we were up for it and we gave as good as we got and that helped us get over the line in the end.
“We turned the ball over high enough up the pitch and I was just there in the middle and that helped us get an overlap. I am just lucky to get into these positions and to keep looking for it, and I’m happy to be able to help the team,” Silke said.
“Ronan Steede pops up with a lot of scores around the middle. Every score we got helped us, but I think his point and the goal coming after it turned the tide and gave us that bit of a gap.
“Pearse’s scored a lot of goals in their games in the Connacht championship and in the Roscommon championship. I think it is a credit to our defence that we kept them scoreless and they didn’t score any goals. It’s not all about the attack and we have to have a solid foundation there to build on.”
Corofin, epitomised by the exuberance of Silke, are noted for their sense of adventure when it comes to their approach to the game.
Offensively, they are the slickest team I have witnessed playing at the highest grade in club football.
Crossmaglen, and even Nemo, have had some superb teams competing in the modern history of the All-Ireland series, but Corofin, it must be said, have produced more devastating performances on the biggest days than even either of the Armagh and Cork clubs in question.
Joe Kernan, Oisín McConville, Billy Morgan, Colin Corkery, et al, might have a thing or two to say about that, but the reality is Corofin have been mesmerising in the last couple of years.
However, it appears as if, this term, they are conscious of producing more controlled performances rather than those of a cavalier nature.
O’Brien’s men are winners that are there to be shot at, they appreciate that, and seem to have evolved slightly in that they possess the confidence to dictate the terms of engagement without needing to bamboozle their opponents with relentless waves of attacking brilliance.
They have had to be more strategic, this campaign, in their approach to retaining their county and provincial titles.
However, that is also due to the fact they have been quite under-par for little spells in their games.
Then again, Corofin’s ‘under-par’ is still better than 99% of what others can bring to the party at this grade.
Yet, Nemo or Clonmel might be in a position to land a telling blow in the last four of the All-Ireland series were Corofin to stutter through patches of such an encounter.
That said, in the case of Nemo, Paul O’Donovan’s charges would need to be on their A game for the entire contest if the sides were to meet in order to capitalise on any little perceived chink in Corofin’s armour.
And, as we all know, Nemo have been inconsistent during their own games, too, so would need to up the ante another two or three notches to reach an All-Ireland final at Corofin’s expense.
Nevertheless, I see Nemo getting the opportunity to challenge Corofin as their firepower should be sufficient to take down Clonmel in Dungarvan.
O’Donovan and his management team are doing a wonderful job with this group, but know there is even more to come from the squad.
With that in mind, it should be Nemo that will have to worry about the likes of Silke in early January.
But Clonmel will obviously provide the Cork kingpins with another ferocious test before all that.