Michael Lundy and Corofin determined to put last year's disappointment to rest
BY SHANE STAPLETON
Michael Lundy won’t be handed a cup if Corofin beat Moorefield, but still there is a massive prize on offer this Saturday. Winning this AIB All-Ireland semi-final clash at O’Connor Park means a trip to Croke Park on Paddy’s Day, which in itself is a huge lure.
The five-in-a-row Galway champions have been before, winning the title in 2015, but they’ve fallen at the semi-final stage in 2010 and 2017. The highs and the lows are both familiar feelings in this football-mad parish.
Few will expect the Kildare representatives to be walking behind the band on March 17, and much of that is down to the wealth of class in Corofin, so perhaps avoiding complacency is their biggest hurdle.
“Yeah, the prize for this game is Croke Park, and that's what you want to do. We need to beat Moorefield to get to Croke Park and we're not looking any further ahead than that. Because we can't.
“We've been on the plus side of it and the negative side of losing All-Ireland semi-finals. A lot of younger lads last year it might have been their first one so hopefully they'll use that as learning. That's the goal at the end of this game on Saturday, a chance to play at Croke Park. It is what it is.”
The lessons learned in last year’s 2-11 to 0-8 defeat to Dr Crokes, who went on to claim the Andy Merrigan Cup, are still fresh in the mind.
“Losing any game is bad but when you're 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland final it’s that bit more sore. Fair play to Crokes, they were the better team. We felt we prepared well but they executed their game plan better on the day.
“We left it behind us, (and we have tried) to put it behind us and use it as a learning for this year. There was a lot of things we could have done that add up to small margins at different times of the game that made a big difference. Hopefully now we can use that for learning for this weekend.”
Corofin beat Slaughtneil of Derry with something to spare in the final three years ago: 1-14 to 0-7. Lundy was a difference-maker that day, hitting an incredible three points in a 90-second period during the first half. The tone was set, and the die was cast. He doesn’t forget the feeling upon the final whistle.
“It was good yeah, it was kind of more of a relief than anything else. there was a lot of pressure on us, it was great. It's forgotten about now because we're preparing for another one but it was a sweet feeling just to be there for a final on Paddy's Day, which makes it more special. But there's a bit of relief there alright.
“There are pictures and Daithi (Burke) was there and he is a good friend of mine,” Lundy adds. “I can remember celebrating with him. I was just looking for friends they're in your friends with everyone on the team and it's just a nice moment.”
And so too Moorefield, the surprise package from Leinster. Lundy isn't falling for any talk of underdogs, and uses some local vernacular to highlight the quality of each team remaining.
“There are no pookies left in it. You wouldn't really put pay too much heed to it (the favourites tag) and I think lads are smart enough now these days not to get carried away by these things. It's only going to end up one way if you do look at it like that.
“In fairness to the management team, they would have got a bit of video and done a bit of work on them. We prepare for them as we would any other team. Hopefully we know enough for next Saturday and we'll soon find out.”
With a parish as mad for the sport as theirs is, it’s all that’s on anyone’s mind. “It is yeah. It's like two parishes in one: Corofin and Belclare. It's a big area but there's not like a focal point, the GAA really is the focal point of the village.
“There's a pitch there beside the shop and the church. Everyone is football-mad and you see young lads there bouncing a ball and wearing a Corofin top. Even for the older people in the parish it's a great day out and they seem to follow us.
“We were over in London a couple of weeks ago (beating Fulham Gaels in a re-fixed game) and people made the trip the second time, not a bother — probably after being there in December. But they still made the trip over. So the support is great and it just tells you that they probably are mad about it.”