Ian Burke and Corofin have illuminated the 2018 football scene

By Peter McNamara
Sports Correspondent

Ever since Corofin unfortunately tore Nemo Rangers to ribbons in the All-Ireland Club SFC final last March, half an eye has been kept on the evolution on the westerners' club and the Galway inter-county teams at adult level, writes Peter McNamara.

Particularly, it's the development of the likes of Ian Burke and his transition from lesser known entity outside of his own region to household name and All-Star.

As illustrated here previously, Burke's display against Nemo was one of the craftiest witnessed for years.

The fact he went on to claim that All-Star was then not as great a shock in these quarters as it was elsewhere. He has been a revelation for Kevin Walsh's Tribesmen and, obviously, Burke has serious aspirations when discussing next season with Galway.

“Dublin are the benchmark and we're just trying to hopefully improve ourselves and find those extra inches to be competitive against the Dubs. They don't seem to let up, they're a 70- or 80-minute team, they don't seem to hit any bad patches during the game," Burke said, in the newspapers prior to Corofin's successful defence of their Connacht title, at the weekend against Ballintubber. “We're just looking to get to a stage where we're competing for 70 minutes consistently throughout a game. They've a phenomenal team there, they've All-Stars all over the place. Look, it's a testament to them.

“They play football the right way I'd like to think. They're a good outfit. That's football, we're just trying to get ourselves up to that level and to try to have lads competing in every position. I think we're not too far off that.”

2019 could be massive for Burke, Corofin and Galway.

On form, it appears Corofin are sweetly-positioned to retain their All-Ireland title, though Dr Crokes will correctly believe they possess the tools to potentially overthrow them.

“There is nothing mysterious about Corofin. It’s just hard work and move the ball quickly. When we’re not at that level we can be beaten by anyone really," Corofin's Kieran Fitzgerald said after he picked up his sixth Connacht SFC medal in Castlebar.

Thing is, they rarely to fail to operate at that level. Corofin are incredibly consistent. However, they did underperform in the first-half against the Mayo champions as Cillian O'Connor's Ballintubber led 1-5 to 1-2.

Nevertheless, the way in which Corofin kicked on thereafter was impressive.

Yet, Dr Crokes are exceptionally focused this term, as their selector Niall O'Callaghan highlighted after Pat O'Shea's outfit regained the Munster crown.

“I made no bones about it, this time last year we were a tired team, we had no excuses whatsoever. We were complacent and didn’t handle our business right, but we did handle our business right this year. Fellas are really focused and today it’s a lot different than this time last year, coming out of Cork with our tails between our legs, deservedly.”

Still, Corofin are first on the grid in this All-Ireland series race.

Burke was introduced and scored 1-1 last Sunday. If he maintains his form and, of course, stays injury-free, his presence could lead to another triumphant day at headquarters next St Patrick's Day for Corofin.

Additionally, there is plenty to like about how their manager, Kevin O'Brien, goes about his business.

Speaking prior to the Ballintubber encounter, he stressed the need for his team to continue to evolve and adapt.

O’Brien told Galway Bay FM: “When you get to this stage of the competition, adaptability is very important. You can read the situation about how the game is panning out.

“Once players cross the white line they have to make that decision themselves, read the situation and adapt to it.

“That’s going to be important come Sunday because when you get down to the last two in Connacht, there are going to be different game-plans and situations happening throughout the game.

“You have to be able to react to them quickly.”

Clearly, and despite their recent successes, O'Brien and co have no time for resting on their laurels.

And that is a most admirable trait, especially in a club team.

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