While Glenswilly went into last Sunday’s Donegal Senior Club Championship as favourites in many people’s eyes there was still a view that, given Killybegs performances this year, the tag of underdogs would suit them.
Other concerns which raised debate in the days leading up to the final included the fact that star player Michael Murphy had been chosen to captain Ireland in the first match of the International Series against Australia less than 24 hours before the County final was due to start. What would happen if Michael got injured and was unable to play on Sunday? Surely, if that were to happen, the Glen men would struggle to get the scores they depend so heavily on their talisman to get.
Well the good news on Sunday morning was that Murphy was fit and ready to go. Likewise, Ciaran Bonner was also ready for action following a hamstring scare and it seemed that Gary McDaid had, apart from the injured pair of Leon Kelly and Ryan Hunter, a full panel of players at his disposal – a great way to go into a big game.
The first half provided us with many interesting talking points. It was, as expected, a low scoring affair, which despite three goals provided us with little idea of what was to follow.
Glenswilly had scored 1-7, 1-4 of which came from a Murphy penalty and four converted frees. Gary McFadden also kicked two frees with Caolan Kelly scoring their solitary point from play. Killybegs managed to score two goals and three points in the first half, the first of which should have been avoided as Christopher Murrin’s long punt deceived Philly O’Donnell in the Glen net while the excellent Hugh McFadden netted the other goal along with two fine frees. Their only point from play came from wing back David Conwell.
When Brendan Faherty levelled matters inside the opening two minutes of the second half it looked as though we were all set for a cliff-hanger but, as it turned out, we couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In the fifth minute, despite being tackled by two defender Michael Murphy’s hand pass set up Neil Gallagher and although his first effort was brilliantly saved he followed it up to drive the loose ball into the net.
That put Glenswilly ahead by three, 2-7 to 2-4, and then in what appeared to be a blink of an eye the scoreboard read 2-14 to 2-5 in favour of the Glen men with the excellent McFadden brothers providing five points, three from Gary and two from Kealan, supported by points from Ruairi Crawford and Ciaran Bonner – six of them from play – to put the game beyond Killybegs.
Their full back Jason Noctor received a second yellow card in that period for a foul on Murphy but it made little difference. Their third goal was a joy to behold and, with defenders in front and behind him, Murphy produced a soccer style flick that Messi would have been proud of to send Kealan McFadden clear.
His chip up into his hands was another thing of beauty as was the timing of his pass to the supporting Ciaran Bonner to slam into the net.
Another two points from Gary McFadden, bringing his total to seven, and one each from Darren McGinley, McFadden (free), big Neil and fittingly Murphy, after he had been fouled yet again, left the final score 3-19 to 2-06.
That would be Murphy’s only score of the second half but his finger prints were all over both Glenswilly goals and a number of scores converted by his team mates.
However, and Michael was the first to say it afterwards, this was all about the team and the second half performance was probably the best they have ever performed as a team. To do it in a County final makes it that little bit more special and, in the end, Glenswilly were just too strong and powerful for a Killybegs team who were over run in the second half.
In the past Glenswilly have been dependant on a few of their big players and on Murphy to get the bulk of the scores. On this occasion, he scored 1-5 and was supported by 2-14 from others giving them their second title in three years. You might say on this occasion when it mattered most Glenswilly were a team united in victory in every sense of the word.
Not so United
After spending his career defending some pretty poor behaviour from his players, both on and off the pitch, Sir Alex Ferguson removed his self imposed shield of protection to have a right go at several of his most famous stars in his new autobiography which was released earlier this week.
Coming directly in the firing line were Roy Keane, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney – arguably three of United’s biggest ever stars.
We already knew that both Beckham and Keane departed in less than amicable circumstances and that in the last few seasons, Sir Alex has had issues with Rooney but the fact that he has decided to go so public will have surprised many.
Given that this isn’t the first book that Sir Alex has written about his time at Old Trafford, maybe the publishers pushed him to go that little bit deeper this time around to get more publicity. If that was the case then they’ve done an excellent job in grabbing our attention.
His fall out with both Keane and Beckham has been well documented by others but this is the first time that we get Sir Alex’s version of events.
It would appear that Beckham believed he was bigger than the club and was more interested in his own brand while, apparently, he had also fallen in love with a girl called Victoria from a band called the Spice Girls.
In the case of Roy Keane he had become a negative influence around the club and had to many self obsessed issues. His interview with MUTV, which was never broadcast, was the final straw we’re told. When Sir Alex called him into his office to tell him the news we’re told about the angry eyes and the vicious tongue which surprised him.
Maybe he should have given Mick McCarthy a call. Keane’s response to it all on television on Tuesday night was to question Sir Alex’s loyalty to a group of players who had helped make him and Manchester United great.
Loyalty is something that Mr Keane doesn’t know too much about himself given that he once came home from a World Cup tournament before it had even started, after giving an interview to a sports reporter in which he was critical of everyone involved in the Republic of Ireland set up, including the management and some of his team mates. Loyalty and Roy Keane? For some reason I find it difficult to put the two together.
Well done to Jason Quigley who became the first Irish boxer to be guaranteed a medal at this year’s World Championships in Almaty. The 22-year-old Ballybofey man is back in action today, Friday, and who would bet against him from reaching and winning the final. What a talent.