GLENSWILLY have become sick of reading history – now, the Foxhall men want to make their own history.
As James Pat McDaid hoisted Dr Maguire into the darkening Ballybofey sky on Sunday evening, Glenswilly could no longer be called the ‘one-hit wonders’ that Ciaran Bonner had feared would be stuck upon them if they’d been beaten by Killybegs.
A second Championship title in three years has made its way to the Pairc Naomh Columba sideboard, but Gary McDaid believes that there is more to come from his players.
The re-appointment of McDaid, who had been manager for their first triumph in 2011, was one of the decisions of the season. Several players in the wake of Sunday’s win cited the influence, the organisation and the inspiration of the St Eunan’s College school teacher. His record speaks for itself. They won the Donegal Gaeltacht title in 2011, a win that inspired their run to Dr Maguire and this year he has guided the club to a Division 2 League and Senior Football Championship success.
The history books of the Donegal SFC contain some clubs who have not made the most of a golden crop. The labyrinth that is the Donegal SFC makes it so hard. It took Naomh Conaill, for instance, five years, from their first in 2005 to their second in 2010.
McDaid wants his crop to push on now and keep writing the chapters of glory.
“We have no major history in Glenswilly,” McDaid says.
“It was up to us to deliver it and to win a Championship to make the young people growing up be looking at photos of our teams and sowing the seeds of the future in them.
“That is so important within a club.
“The first one was so special in 2011. It was just a feeling of sheer relief. we had been sick of listening to people saying about how Glenswilly was the up and coming team in Donegal. We were nearly afraid of what would happen if we hadn’t delivered.
“We would become the nearly team and it was a real weight off the shoulders when we won the first one. That up and coming tag could have stayed with us if we hadn’t won it.
“Now, it is a completely different scenario. We had been hearing a lot about history and tradition in the weeks leading up to the semi-final and final, about the great pedigree of clubs like Ardara and Killybegs, which is so deep in fairness.
“For the club we come from to win two Senior Championships in three years is just unbelieveable. We really are punching above our weight.
“I believe that this group would have underachieved if they hadn’t pushed on to win the second. It is a good team that wins one Championship, but it is a great team that can win it again. It’s obviously nice for the players who are winning their first Championship, but this will mean an awful lot to the boys who are still here from 2011, especially after the year they had in 2012.”
Their hold on Dr Maguire’s ears was loosened by Dungloe in a quarter-final. They made a tame exit and also surrendered their top-flight status after a play-off defeat to Gaoth Dobhair.
The questions and answeres that followed brought some home truths home to roost.
For McDaid, his first job was stabilising. That he has led them to the top of the mountain again is to his and his players’ eternal credit.
He says: “Confidence was low. There were a lot of harsh and honest articles written about them, questioning their ability to implement the plans and questioning their motivation. They were harsh, but they were true. They summed up the season for the boys, but they had to take notice of that and realise that it was the view the general public had of them.”
When he first assembled his group on January 12th, there was little hope of Glenswilly pondering a serious assault on the Championship, but last Sunday they delivered one of the most emphatic statements ever seen in Donegal. Their 3-19 was the biggest ever scoreline by a team in a Senior Championship final in Donegal and their sixteen-point winning margin the largest win in a final.
“The team showed great maturity and great experience in the second half,” McDaid says.
“We rattled up 2-12 in the second half of a county final, which is amazing really. Some of our scores in the second half were excellent too. They worked the ball in all the time and always worked it to me in the better position. We have learned an awful lot about ourselves of late and now that is starting to show.
“The team really has matured a lot and they really are playing a team game.”
The good teams all have the magician who can make something of nothing and in that magic wand of Michael Murphy’s there is a bag of tricks that few can equal never mind better.
That flick of the boot to backheel the ball into the path of Kealan McFadden in the run up to the third goal, netted by Bonner, will become the stuff of legend in Glenswilly. Murphy, for the second time, was the Man of the Match. His was a breathtaking performance. Aside from the 1-5 he scored, there was the big contributions for each of the other two goals, not to mentionan outstanding all-round display.
“It was actually amazing, when you think about it, that we scored 3-19 and neither Michael or Colin Kelly scored from play,” says McDaid
“The two boys were always talked about as our big scorers, but now people will be looking and seeing that we have a fine scoring threat right through our team.”
Glenswilly were only a point ahead at half-time, with Killybegs stunning them with two goals, by Christopher Murrin and Hugh McFadden.
“We had been reasonably happy with how we were doing except for the two goals,” McDaid says.
“They were just so frustrating, but at half-time they were done with and we just had to make sure that we put the thing to bed as early as we could. What was maddening for the first goal wasn’t really the way we conceded, but more the way that Murrin had so much time to put the ball where he wanted with no pressure on the ball.”
McDaid and his team didn’t take the feet off the gas, but the big margin allowed him to empty the bench and there was a chance to give Oisin Crawford his Championship debut.
“He deserved it for the work he had been putting in at training. He was pushing hard at training and was very consistent in the games he was playing in,” McDaid says.
“He put in the hard work and got his reward.”
Just like the team who now look forward to taking on St Gall’s of Antrim on Sunday week.
McDaid says: “What an opportunity this is for Glenswilly to be taking on St Gall’s in Ballybofey in the Ulster Championship. St Gall’s is our focus now. We will prepare the same as we did for the Donegal Championship and we’re looking to give this a real rattle. We’ll try and be even better prepared to give it a go.”