Preview: Tir Chonaill Gaels v Corofin
AIB All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship Quarter-Final
Tir Chonaill Gaels (London) v Corofin (Galway), Ruislip, 1pm
In all honesty, there probably aren't too many people out there who expect London champions Tir Chonaill Gaels to beat Connacht champions Corofin this Sunday in Ruislip, but before reaching any snap conclusions, it's worth looking back at recent All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Every winter, the London champions face one of the four provincial senior football winners in an All-Ireland quarter-final and while the provincial champions have invariably progressed, it hasn't always been plain sailing.
Kingdom Kerry Gaels put up a strong challenge to Ballinderry before going down battling last December, while Tir Chonaill Gaels themselves have ran Crossmaglen and Kilmurry-Ibrickane close in the past. They faced Corofin at this stage back in the 2008/2009 season, and aside from the concession of two early goals to the Galway side, the London champions acquitted themselves well.
The London Championship is the most competitive of all the overseas club championships, and with 11 titles won in the last 20 years, the Greenford based side, originally founded by men from Co. Donegal as the name suggests, have marked themselves clearly out as the Gaelic football kings of the city in the modern era.
Managed by former Leitrim manager Barney Breen, Tir Chonaill Gaels can call upon Galway native Mark Gottsche as well as the likes of Philip Butler, Joe Feeney and Eoin O’Neill, all of them experienced players at inter-county level with London. Their aim will surely be to keep the game as tight and as low-scoring as possible, which is a lot easier said than done against the Galway and Connacht champions.
Corofin have absolutely blitzed their way to county and provincial titles this season, recording some hugely impressive wins along the way. In their last four wins, they have hit a combined tally of 18-59 (an average of 0-28 per game) and the fact that those four games were county and provincial semi-finals and finals says everything about their ability to deliver on the big stage.
Ian Burke, Michéal Lundy and Martin Farragher have been deadly up front for Corofin in the last few months, while Gary Sice has been outstanding in his roving role in the middle third. The Corofin defence, anchored by the experienced Kieran Fitzgerald, is also very strong and it's hard to see how Tir Chonaill Gaels can be the team to stop the Corofin machine this weekend, given that it's currently hard to see how anyone can.
However, Corofin manager Stephen Rochford is not leaving anything to chance and he says he and his side are heavily guarded against complacency. “This is no weekend away for the lads," he said, ahead of his side's journey to London on Saturday. "We've a job of work to do and it’s a game that brings its own concerns for us as they’re a team that we haven’t seen in the flesh this year.
The winners of the game will face the winners of this Sunday's Leinster final between St Vincent's and Rhode in next February's All-Ireland semi-final.
Deferred coverage of the game will be broadcast on Irish TV on Sky 191 this Sunday, December 14, from 6-8pm.
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