BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN OMAGH
THERE were nine minutes remaining and, with Glenswilly leading by three points, a loose ball popped up close to the sideline just beneath the press box at Healy Park.
Joe Gibbons took possession and immediately came under fire from all arts and parts.
Gibbons held on as if his life depended on it and managed to free himself from the shackles of the Roslea contingent that had surrounded him.
A few moves later and Colin Kelly arched over a magnificent point to put Glenswilly four ahead.
Gibbons typified the size of the fight that is within this Glenswilly squad in those moments where the game became a battle.
And nerves doesn’t come into it for the teak-tough half-back.
“Personally I had no nerves and I don’t think this team had any nerves,” he said.
“We came up here today relaxed and we knew we had a job to do. We knew they had a game plan. Without spelling it out, it was long diagonal balls, one after the other. From a defender’s point of view, it was easy to read what they were going to do.
“We had a couple of mistakes in the second half and we’ll have to work on those for the final.”
On the incident that led to the penalty from which Seamus Quigley scored Roslea’s opening goal, Gibbons said: “The penalty was my mistake – it was completely stupid. In the heat of the moment it happens some times.”
Gibbons has been toiling for the last decade on Glenswilly sides that have dreamt of days like this.
As he spoke to reporters, a sea of jubilant Glenswilly supporters were sweeping across Healy Park. Nearby, his sister Breda (Doherty) and nephew Leon were waiting to give their good wishes.
Gibbons assessed the scene beside him and had the look of a man who was half expecting to wake with his head in the cornflakes.
“You go out all the days of your life to train and you train as hard as you can just dreaming of this,” he beamed.
“If you’d told me a few years ago that we’d be in an Ulster senior final I’d have laughed at you. This is the stuff of dreams. The amount of people who are out there today is unbelievable.
“It’s great to get over the line.”
And now for Ballinderry.
Gibbons said: “Outside Crossmaglen, Ballinderry are one of the teams you look up to. It’s a massive challenge, but we’ll knuckle down and get a game plan sorted.”
Armed with that blueprint, Gibbons and co head for battle in confident tune.