The lights may be on in Croke Park but this is the game that will have purists purring on Saturday as club heavyweights Corofin and Dr. Crokes lock horns.
Dr. Crokes have surprisingly only won one title, back in 1992, and have fallen at the semi-final hurdle three times this decade. It’s even more startling that Kerry have produced winners in this competition since 1996.
In both years, Corofin fell at the penultimate hurdle. Goals for Mike Buckley, Vince Casey and Liam Hartnett helped Dr. Crokes to a 3-4 to 1-5 win before an eight-year-old Colm Cooper was mascot when they defeated Dublin’s Thomas Davis. And in 1996, Laune Rangers ended Corofin’s dreams.
However, the Galway side emerged triumphant in 1998 beating Dublin’s Erin’s Isle that kick-started a golden period for the county. And in 2015, Corofin were champions again in a 1-14 to 0-7 win over Slaughtneil.
Both sides possess big names with Galway players Gary Sice and Micheal Lundy key for Corofin; 2001 All-Ireland winner Kieran Fitzgerald and footballer of the year Ciaran McGrath in defence; while Ian Burke and Jason Leonard are other serious threats.
Cooper is Dr. Crokes’ talisman but Daithi Casey seized a hat-trick in their Munster Final win against Waterford’s The Nire. Kieran O’Leary is another target man while Fionn Fitzgerald and Gavin White will anchor the defence. But Eoin Brosnan’s loss due to a calf injury is a major setback.
Midfield could settle matters with Corofin’s Daithi Burke and Ronan Steede against Dr. Crokes’ Ambrose O’Donovan and Johnny Buckley. Corofin have recent pedigree but Dr. Crokes have been knocking on the door and they might just get his chance on St. Patrick’s Day.