If the good people at Paddy Power and Boylesports are to be believed then Pádraig Pearses are wasting their time travelling to Tuam for the Connacht club final on Sunday. However, the reason why we follow and love sport is the possibility that anything can happen. While all the information we have would point to a comfortable Corofin win, a lot of shrewd GAA people feel that Pearses are coming into this final with a great chance and I agree with that.
We know what Corofin have done and there is a very good argument to be made that they are one of the greatest club teams that we have ever seen. However, they have been on the road at the top level for almost three years non-stop and it has to be taking its toll on their players. They are not robots and sooner or later fatigue has got to kick in, whether that happens this coming Sunday or not is the big question.
The All-Ireland champions squeezed past Tuam in a replayed Galway final before edging out Ballintubber of Mayo in the semi-final. It can be argued that they won those crucial games and they know how to win better than anyone else, but it wasn’t with the swagger that we have become accustomed to.
Pearses come into this match in bonus territory and with nothing to lose. Winning the Roscommon title has released a major pressure valve and the team can now concentrate of playing football after the release of finally getting their hands on the Fahey Cup.
The new Roscommon champions were too good for Tourlestrane and Tir Chonaill Gaels in this provincial championship and were impressive winners in both games, but they know that this is a massive step up and Corofin are a standard of opposition that they have not met this year.
But having met and spoken with Pearses players in recent weeks, they are really enjoying this journey that they are on and there is an inner belief that they can cause Corofin problems on Sunday.
The usual Pearses players will expect to be the fore with Niall Daly leading the way. But Ronan, Conor and Lorcan Daly, Shane and Niall Carty, Mark Richardson, Paul Carey, Hubert Darcy and Conor Payne have all contributed handsomely to Pearses’ successes so far and they will all have to be at their very best on Sunday if they are to win this title. Pearses have been scoring goals in all their games since the Roscommon quarter-finals and they will need at least one on Sunday next if they wish to prosper.
This game will be won and lost on Pearses ability or otherwise to keep out a lethal Corofin attack. There is so much quality in the Corofin forwards that it is hard to know where to start. Gary Sice is so experienced. Mike Lundy and Ian Burke are lethal in front of goals. The Farraghers, Michael and Martin are also top-quality players. It will take a huge effort for Pearses to keep tabs on this attack.
The impressive Kieran Molloy now plays at midfield alongside Daithi Burke and they form a formidable duo. Liam Silke and the evergreen Kieran Fitzgerald will marshall the Corofin defence. They look such a strong side all the time. We have seen them play some sparking football over the past few years, and they have put some top-class teams to the sword too.
But the winning run of all great teams has to come to a halt some time and why not this Sunday? Pearses will have to play their best football for sixty minutes if they want to have a chance to win this final. We have seen them play some great stuff this year but it has only lasted for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. That won’t be good enough on Sunday.
I am giving Pearses a chance, but it looks a very tall order for them to upset this magnificent Corofin team. Tuam Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Roscommon teams over the years and hopefully this can work in Pearses’ favour too. I have to say that I am really looking forward to this match and hope that Pearses can do themselves justice on the day. It will be closer than a lot of people think. I hope I’m wrong but Corofin look to have the team to edge out winners by a few points.