BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE big day is almost upon them and the feeling coming from Glenswilly is relaxed and confident ahead of Sunday’s Ulster Senior Club Championship final against Ballinderry (Healy Park, Omagh, throw-in 3pm, deferred coverage on TG4 from 3.35pm).
Gary McDaid’s team go into the game as the underdogs looking to win an Ulster senior club title for Donegal for the first time since St Joseph’s, a Ballyshannon-Bundoran amalgamation, topped the pile in 1975. That was seven years before the formation of the Glenswilly club, which is in its eighth year playing senior football.
“It is easily the biggest day in the club’s history,” says the team manager, Gary McDaid.
Leon Kelly and Aidan McDevitt look set to miss out on starts, both having not seen game time in Glenswilly’s Ulster Championship campaign. Kelly is struggling with a long-standing hamstring complaint while McDevitt sustained injury in a work accident in the week prior to the Ulster quarter-final win over St Gall’s. McDevitt fell from a roof, yet he has been pushing himself in a bid to stake a claim and it is not beyond possibility that he could feature at some stage with both he and Kelly to be assessed again at training on Friday.
Ryan Hunter is a definite absentee having gone under the surgeon’s knife in Galway on Monday to have cruciate ligament damage repaired.
Otherwise, Glenswilly are at full strength as they aim to take down the colours of Ballinderry, the three-in-a-row Derry SFC winners.
“Obviously Ballinderry fancy their chance and no-one outside our circle gives us much of a chance,” says McDaid.
Within that circle stand talismen like Michael Murphy, the leader of the band, Neil Gallagher, their general, not to mention Gary McFadden, Ciaran Bonner and Colin Kelly.
Inside their circle there are no doubts lingering as they had for Omagh.
“We wouldn’t be in this position if we didn’t have that self belief,” McDaid says.
“The more scalps we’ve taken, the more our belief has grown. Belief will be huge on Sunday.”
Nor are Glenswilly short of a hard edge thanks to a Championship that has seen them been put to the pins of the collar at several junctures.
McDaid constantly talks of Glenswilly ‘grabbing the opportunities’. This weekend is a year since Glenswilly were beaten by Gaoth Dobhair in a play-off, which resulted in their relegation to Division 2. That evening, December 2nd 2012, they wandered across from O’Donnell Park to the Tír na nÓg bar, where they watched Crossmaglen defeat Kilcoo in the Ulster club final.
“That’s a long way away now,” says McDaid.
“We’ve made a lot of strides since that and a lot of development has taken place in that time.
“The story has captured an audience – especially considering where we’re coming from.
“Hopefully Sunday can be another step on the later in the development of Glenswilly, as a team and as a club.
“It’s just one more big step for us now.”