Joe Kernan: St Gall’s can make it All Ireland double glory for Ulster clubs
The prospect of an Ulster double in the All Ireland Club football championship looms large on the horizon.
In beating Kerry and Munster champions Spa to land the Intermediate crown last Sunday, Cookstown have thrown down the gauntlet to St Gall’s to overcome Galway’s Corofin in their senior club semi-final this weekend and then go on and beat either Kilmurry/Ibrickane or Portlaoise in the All Ireland decider on St Patrick’s Day.
Of course, this is a particularly tall order for St Gall’s. Yet, just like Cookstown, they have shown remarkable consistency and resilience to date during their Antrim and Ulster Championship campaigns.
While every player targets All Ireland success with his county, it is really only the privileged few who get to achieve this signal honour.
The next best thing for any player is to achieve a significant national triumph with his club and those who have been fortunate enough to enjoy this experience will tell you that sharing this with the players they have grown up with, their families, neighbours and friends is indeed truly special.
That’s why Cookstown have been celebrating in style this week and it’s the massive incentive that will bolster St Gall’s in their attempt to hurdle Corofin on Sunday just a week after their hurling colleagues endured the heartbreak of losing the All Ireland Intermediate final to St Lachtain’s (Kilkenny).
In recent years, Ulster clubs have been forced to look on as teams from other areas have dominated All Ireland competitions. But this time the possibility that two club titles could come north has fired the imagination of followers here.
Corofin are a battle-hardened, industrious side but with players like Colin Brady, Aodhan Gallagher, Kieran McGourty, Sean Kelly, Anto Healy, CJ McGourty and the Gallagher brothers Ronan and Rory bringing their vast experience to the table, the men from west Belfast are capable of securing their passport into the decider.