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Ballintubber Overcame History Before. On Sunday They Must Do It All Over Again

Ballintubber Overcame History Before. On Sunday They Must Do It All Over Again
By Gary Connaughton Updated

When it comes to the story behind the clubs of Corofin and Ballintubber, they could hardly differ further. One is a resounding story of sustained success, the other a tale of mediocrity and an unprecedented change of fortunes.

Corofin are the second most successful club in Galway, with an astounding 20 Senior Championship crowns to their name. While the vast majority of those wins have during the last three decades, they have a winning pedigree which stretches all the way back to 1932, the year of their maiden county title.

Others came in '46 and '77, and then they became the nearly men of Galway football. Three county final defeats in 10 years followed, until the curse was finally broken in 1991, when they also experienced Connacht glory for the first time. They haven't looked back since.

16 more county final wins have followed in the intervening years, including the last six years in a row. Provincial wins have not been scarce either, with eight now to their name. Three All-Ireland crowns too.

They will aim for their third consecutive Connacht title on Sunday, and the defending All-Ireland champions are perhaps the most dominant force in the country at the moment. None of this is taken for granted however.

For star froward Ian Burke, he does not have to look too far to find those within the club who could have only dreamed of such success.

I remember my dad playing, he went years without winning a county title, for a lot of years, so he doesn’t be long telling me that the good years mightn’t last forever.

The club’s a funny one, it comes in cycles. We’re very lucky and privileged at the moment, and we’re very aware of that, where we are at the moment it’s hard to stay at that level consistently. We’re enjoying it at the moment and taking every game, but you can look back in years to come and see what you’ve done.

At the moment we’re more focussed on Ballintubber.

The Mayo club could hardly have a more contrasting history than that of their opponents.

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They spent the majority of their roughly 75 year history in the second and third tier of Mayo club football. Whenever they would finally find their way to the senior ranks, they would usually quickly return to the relative comfort of intermediate football.

In that famous 1991 season when Corofin began to assert themselves as a footballing power, Ballintubber were relegated from senior after a one-year stay. They would not return until 2008. In that time Corofin won seven county championships and two further Connacht titles.

The meeting of these two clubs in a provincial decider is something few would have predicted ten years ago, but Ballintubber have since started to rewrite their own record books.

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A golden generation of players arrived, with three consecutive county u21 titles from 2008-2010. Couple this with the emergence of club man James Horan as their manager, and you have the base from which they have turned the fortunes of the club.

A first senior title would arrive in 2010 under the leadership of Horan, who would soon step into inter-county management. Another would follow in 2011, then again in 2014. When their fourth arrived this year, the next step was clear: Connacht glory.

Sunday's provincial decider will be their second, with Corofin also their opponents in 2014. But this Ballintubber side seems more prepared, better tested.

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It is fitting that that they will once again come up against the club who have been the dominant force in Connacht over the last 30 years, an established power that shows no signs of slowing down.

The Galway side will enter the game as strong favourites, and rightly so. Few can match Corofin, as evidenced by their 4-22 to 0-7 win over Roscommon's Clann na Gael in the semi-final.

Ballintubber on the other hand have found the going much tougher. An entirely unconvincing one point victory over Sligo's Tourlestrane did little to lay out their Connacht credentials. A slightly more convincing win over Aughawillan followed, but few give them much of a chance in the final.

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And yet here they are. With O'Connor brothers Cillian and Diarmuid amongst the ranks, they will fancy themselves.

There are also seemingly some chinks in the Corofin armour. A county final replay victory over Mountbellew-Moylough was hardly the most convincing, scoring only 1-15 in the two games combined. They struggled to break down the Mountbellew blanket defence in those two games, a template from which Ballintubber might learn.

Corofin no doubt realise this, and they will arrive at MacHale Park ready to face a defensive team. The Mayo side will likely sit deep and attempt to hit their opponents on the break. Diarmuid O'Connor will be hugely important in this game plan, and he will need to produce yet another stellar performance to give his team any chance.

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While history (both recent and distant) is on the side of Corofin, it could all count for nought.

Ballintubber have overcome history before. On Sunday, they will have to do it all over again.

Connacht Club Senior Football Championship Final

25/11/18 - Ballintubber (Mayo) v Corofin (Galway) - MacHale Park, 2pm.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things We Learned From The Club GAA Weekend


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