THE SPORTING DIARY: Donegal and the Corofin way - everyone can learn from Galway side

THE SPORTING DIARY: Donegal and the Corofin way - everyone can learn from Galway side

It was a good weekend for Gaelic football thanks to Corofin of Galway. For all those who are crying out for changes to the rules, there was enough evidence in Croke Park on St Patricks Day to suggest that there isn't much wrong with the game . . . when it is played the right way.

The onset of defensive coaching has strangled the game at intercounty level, and all for what? How many of those counties have enjoyed any meaningful success? Yes there have been one or two wins over perceived bigger counties, but is that really success?

What Corofin proved in the club final in Croke Park is that if you want to win something, you have to score and it was a privilege to be present to watch them keep driving forward, always looking to create an opening and rarely ever take a step backward.

They made a very good Dr Crokes side look average. All their energy was used to attack; their two wing half-backs Molloy and Wall kept driving forward, with the ageless full-back Kieran Fitzgerald becoming a corner-forward at times. They also kept great width to their attacks with two players on either sideline as they drove forward.

Their coaching manual should be the model for all clubs and counties - and it must start at club level. We just have to get away from this obsession with a defensive basketball type of game, which is strangling Gaelic football.

Donegal should be able to get their hands on that coaching manual. Remember, their coach Stephen Rochford, was manager of Corofin when they won the second of their All-Ireland titles in 2015 - a team that contained many of the players who lined out on Sunday last.

Rochford took over Mayo immediately after his All-Ireland club success with Corofin and came up just short on a couple of occasions against Dublin.

The big difficulty in changing the coaching plan in any county is in changing the mindset. The short-passing, possession style of Gaelic football has become endemic at club level, and unless that mindset is changed there will be no change at intercounty level.

And yet here we were watching Corofin on Sunday, playing the game the way it should be played and, more importantly, playing a game that was a thousand times more likely to win something.

The win for Corofin should give encouragement to Gaoth Dobhair, who gave them a much stiffer test than Kerry champions Dr Crokes.

The previous day in Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork, we were treated to an equally entertaining game which Donegal won playing some very attractive football. Cork played their part too and were unfortunate to lose players to injury near the end with all their substitutes used. The seven point winning margin didn't flatter Donegal, but if Cork had the full complement, then it would probably have been three or four.

There were a lot of similarities between the NFL game and the club finial the following day, but where there was a difference was in the clinical finishing of Corofin when chances presented themselves. The Galway side's mantra was to go for the jugular every time . . . and if the goal wasn't on, then take your point.

Donegal had five or six goal chances in the game against Cork and converted one. If Corofin had been presented with the same chances they would have converted at least four,

That is not meant to be a criticism of the Donegal display on the day (which was refreshing to watch), but just an observation on the way Corofin are coached. Ian Burke didn't get on the scoreboard for Corofin, yet he was magnificent in the way he used the ball; Kieran Molloy was just magnificent and why he didn't get the man of the match, I'll never know.

It is ironic that Corofin are club champions for 2018 and 2019 with that style of winning football yet the Galway county team has been largely playing a defensive type game which may win them a Connacht title, but will probably fall short at All-Ireland level.

Surely, Kevin Walsh has access to the Corofin manual. That manual along with an influx of Corofin players should make Galway a team to watch. But don't hold your breath.

What was really worrying about the weekend was the fact that less than 20,000 turned up in Croke Park for the club finals. Ballyhale Shamrocks created a record by winning their seventh club title, while Corofin have the perfect finals record . . . . played four, won four.