Tuam reach for stars in showdown with Corofin
HALF of Tuam is being dug up at the moment to install the town's new utilities, but such is the crowd expected for tomorrow's county football final, the road-works have been temporarily halted.
Recent kingpins Corofin take on local hopefuls Tuam Stars, who are hoping that they will be doing some show-stopping of their own, having reached the county football final for the first time since 1995.
That a club, which has won a record 25 Galway titles, has taken so long to get back there, is surprising.
The legendary Tuam team that won seven consecutive crowns from 1954-60 contained Sean Purcell and Frank Stockwell and the club subsequently produced county stars like Brian Talty and Ja Fallon. But now the former aristocrats are firm underdogs against Corofin, who are looking for a third victory in their fourth successive final.
Tuam met Corofin in the 1994 and '95 finals, winning the former and losing the latter when they had a last-minute penalty to equalise, but county 'keeper Martin MacDonagh saved it.
Tuam secretary Ian Doyle believes there is one key reason that they have finally made a comeback.
"Our manager Alan Flynn," he declared, referring to the local man who was part of Galway's All-Ireland U-21-winning backroom team this year and is also part of Alan Mulholland's new county senior management.
"Alan's an absolute perfectionist, not one thing is left to chance and we have a good balance in the team now too," Doyle added.
"We've made a few minor finals recently and we won the county U-21 title four years ago. Our captain, Tony Costello, is 34 and beside him in defence he has Aonghus Tierney (21) and a 19-year-old corner-back. That mixture of youth and experience has been a key part of it.
"The players have worked extremely hard, too. There's been no such thing as a drinks ban. Alan just treats them like adults and they don't even go out, never mind have a drink."
Remarkably, at the start of the season, Tuam feared that they wouldn't be able to hold on to their senior status.
"Like a lot of clubs we've been badly affected by emigration and lost seven to eight players this year alone," said Doyle. "But we've had that bit of luck this year that we haven't had at other times and that has been a huge help."
Tuam, who needed replays to beat Mountbellew and Salthill-Knocknacarra, face into their fifth game in five weeks tomorrow.
"Yes, it's been pretty hectic alright, but the delay earlier on really suited us," added Doyle, referring to the lengthy hold-up they suffered because of a player eligibility dispute elsewhere.
"When we played Kilkerrin-Clonberne the second time, we went into that game with a panel of just 19 and just two forward subs because of injuries.
"We got through thanks to a goal with just five minutes to go and then, because of the delay before we played Mountbellew, we had time to get injured players back. "Those are the sort of breaks we got this year that have been a big help to us."