Corofin closing in fast on All-Ireland club history
Darragh Silke to miss UCD’s Sigerson Cup quarter-final on Sunday due to club final
Corofin’s Liam Silke: for the last two years he has been unable to play a Sigerson Cup match with UCD as it clashed with an All-Ireland club semi-final. Photograph: Evan Logan/Inpho
There are a few slim theories going around on how Galway’s Corofin might be stopped from making All-Ireland club history and one of them has already passed.
No club – in either football or hurling – has won three successive All-Ireland titles, and only Kilcoo of Co Down and an hour of football in Croke Park on Sunday now stand in Corofin’s way.
The Galway club also boasts an impeccable record in Croke Park, winning their last three finals there – in 2019, 2018 and 2015 – by a combined 37 points (their first and fourth title in all won back in 1998). Those games took place on March 17th on typically harder spring ground, yet the theory that the softer ground of January may not suit their style disappeared with their six-point semi-final win over Cork’s Nemo Rangers.
In the previous two years Corofin only won their semi-final by three points (against Moorefield) and four points (Gaoth Dobhair): so much for being more vulnerable in January. Still, it hasn’t been all plain sailing.
One of these decades the GAA might get its calendar in order yet for now the conflict continues – club versus county versus college – and Corofin are well used to it. For the third year running their All-Ireland club football campaign has clashed with the Sigerson Cup, and the shifting of both competitions in 2020 has not helped.
For the last two years Corofin defender Liam Silke has been unable to play a Sigerson match with UCD as it clashed with an All-Ireland club semi-final; this year it’s the turn of younger brother Darragh, also now attending UCD but who will miss their Sigerson Cup quarter-final on Sunday as it conflicts with Corofin’s club final showdown against Kilcoo.
Last year Corofin teammate Kieran Molloy was also conflicted by club and college duty, spared a clash by a change in fixture, and Silke certainly has empathy for his younger brother (who came on as a replacement in their semi-final win over Nemo Rangers this month).
“The fixtures issues are well publicised,” says Silke, both players being nephews of All-Ireland winning Galway captain Ray Silke. “Less players are affected this year than previously but, look, it’s a massive issue. It’s hard to find what the proper solution is. Obviously a lot of people have been talking about it, but it’s clearly not been fixed this year.
“I think the plan is to bring the club championship back to before January, so that would obviously take away a clash, so that is the best solution.
“The club is obviously going to be the priority, and obviously always will be. He’s been training with the club all year since last February or whatever, so he has to prioritise that. But he’s on a scholarship with UCD so he’s missing out there because he can’t tog out for the game. It’s not an easy position for players to be in. I think it’s just up to the managers to manage it the best and put the players’ welfare as their priority.”
Darragh Silke did feature for UCD in their Sigerson Cup victory over University of Ulster last weekend, but is double-booked for this Sunday, UCD playing Mary’s at Belfield (2pm) before Corofin face Kilcoo in Croke Park (4pm).
From this coming December the club semi-finals will also be played in December, with the final set to follow within the next few years. For Silke that may help, but the full calendar year can’t come soon enough.
“Obviously it’s going to be hectic for Leinster, to try and get all those games out of the way in time to be able to play semi-finals, but you just have to try it and see how it goes. I don’t think it’s helpful having them [semi-finals] directly after Christmas.
“It has been a quick turnaround, quicker than we’ve been used to than the past few years, but it’s just the same as ever. Just get your head down, get the work in, and get the analysis done on the opposition.
“Us having been there the last two years, we’re more used to the occasion. But that could also be a disadvantage if you’re not as up for it, and not putting it up that high in our expectations. But hopefully it will be an advantage on the day.”