BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FRANK McGlynn had a golden Ulster Championship in 2012.
The Glenfin man ran Colm McFadden so close for the Ulster Player of the Year award there would hardly have been a Rizla between them. McGlynn was also in the shake-up for the GAA Player of the Year award late last year.
Consistency is his motto, but 2013 has been a frustrating summer so far for a player who netted the defining score in the Ulster final 12 months ago.
McGlynn had stayed forward after shipping a heavy knock, but it was a decision that reaped huge divideds. The clock showed 52 minutes and Donegal were three up, when Michael Murphy made the play, slipping in McGlynn, who shot so coolly past Brendan McVeigh he could have been mistaken for one of the game’s more clinical forwards.
As personal highlights go, it will be hard to top.
“It’s always special to score a goal for your team in the Championship,” says McGlynn.
He’s not a reflective sort of man, preferring instead to look forward. This weekend presents the chance of a lifetime.
“It’s special, too, to be going for three Ulster titles in a row. That is really what we’re focussing on. It’s a matter of going out and doing whatever jobs we’re given on the day. It’s about carrying them out to the best of our ability.”
The Stramore National School teacher has had a stop-start campaign. First hampered by a hamstring injury that put him out of action early in the Tyrone game – he lasted just 20 minutes – he suffered a whack to the head that left him concussed and unable to re-emerge for the second-half of the Down game.
McGlynn spent the night of the game in Letterkenny General Hospital.
“I remember bits and pieces – especially that it was very physical!” he says.
“It’s been hard. Especially when you’re used to playing the Championship games. It’s tough to come off with injuries. We’re lucky we have strength in depth to cope with injuries.
“It’s good to be back on the training field. Fitness is building now again and I’m looking forward to the game.”
Donegal have certainly been handed no easy path to retention, first having to navigate their old nemesis, Tyrone, then a tricky Down side and now faced with an improving Monaghan.
From the outset, Donegal minds were always on July 21st, even if initially the eyes couldn’t blink from the stare at May 26th.
McGlynn says: “We always had the summer months in mind. It really benefitted us because there is good freshness there now, more than ever. It’s given everyone a good boost.
“There’s a good buzz in training. Things are going very well, numbers are big.
“The aim at the start of the year was to retain the Ulster title. We’ve done the work to get here, so now we have to get over that last hurdle.
“Retaining Ulster was the main goal. Tyrone was the big step. Once we got over the step, we could focus more on retaining it.
“It doesn’t get much tougher than dealing with the experience Tyrone have and then moving on to Down. People in Donegal thought it was going to be easy for us, but it turned out to be a real dogfight and a game we did just enough to get over the line in.
“It was a tight game. But for those massive scores we got it could have been a different story.
“Colm and Michael stepped up with a couple of great scores. After we opened up our lead at the start, it was pretty much score for score. It was a tight battle, but it’s a battle that will stand to us. We’re going into the Monaghan game now and we have that in the back pocket if it’s needed again.”
Donegal have not spoken of winning Ulster in 2013. They do now.
And they’re aware of that sacred realm that will open before them if they emerge from the shadows on Sunday.
“It’s massive,” says McGlynn. “We could join teams like Down and Armagh who have done it (winning three-in-a-row).
“We’re just treating it as another game, but it would, in years to come, to look back on the memory of winning three Ulster titles in a row and be remember for that. It’s a chance to join great Ulster teams. For us, the job at hand is the match itself and that’s what our focus is on. In years to come, it would be an honour to be spoken of in the same breath as those other teams who have done it.
“We don’t want to be complacent about it. We have to stay on the task at hand and try to get over the line.”