No Bones About It

Declan Bonner

Bigger days in store for ‘special’ Glenswilly team


WHAT a massive day Sunday is for the members of the Glenswilly club – and there could be bigger days ahead for they have now what can be regarded a special team in their midst.

It is rare that clubs will get such an array of prodigious talents coming all at the one time, but Glenswilly have a side that is heaving with big game players.

Opportunities like this don’t roll around too often at all, but this is a golden chance for Glenswilly to reach an Ulster club final. It would be a significant step for the club and also, I feel, for Donegal football. We really need our top teams and our best players to be in the mix with the cream of the crop at this grade – and if they can avoid complacency, I think that Glenswilly can book their final place this weekend.


Roslea Shamrocks will see this as a huge test for themselves, but they’ll also view this as a fantastic opportunity and they’d be right to.

Neither county has a great record at Ulster level when it comes to their clubs, so it would be a massive step for either to win on Sunday.

Roslea stunned the Cavan champions, Ballinagh, in the quarter-final stage. Ballinagh beat a very fancied Cavan Gaels team in the Cavan county final, but I think the celebrations – and I believe they were rather lengthy! – hampered them against Roslea. That said, Roslea are not to be taken lightly. The Quigley brothers, Seamus and Sean, offer potent threats that Glenswilly will want to tighten the shackles on if they’re to avoid defeat.

Complacency, I mentioned as a possible danger, but to this Glenswilly team I don’t think it will be an issue. Quite simply, they’re too well tuned to let complacency creep in and become a problem for them.

The importance of the game will have been spoken about in their camp and it really is important. Only Naomh Conaill in 2010 have reached the Ulster senior club final from this county since Killybegs did so in 1991 so it really is something we should be aspiring to.

In Glenswilly, we have a team that is well capable of carrying the Donegal flag into the club battle this weekend – and hopefully on to the final.

No matter who Glenswilly will play, they will have a close watch kept on Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy. At the moment, Michael is on fire. Stopping big Neil getting possession around the middle is the key to stopping Glenswilly, but many have tried and failed there. In Michael, Glenswilly have a special player and I wouldn’t at all argue with Peter McGinnity, the Roslea manager, who said this week that he was the ‘outstanding player of his generation’.


Any sort of ball that is within his grasp can be regarded as a danger when Michael is on the end of it. Opening it up to get Kealan McFadden, Ciaran Bonner, Gary McFadden and Colin Kelly on ball is a big part of Glenswilly too – and each one of those players can also be termed a match winner.

Glenswilly will need another big display from Michael – but with the form he has been showing this shouldn’t be a problem.

They have every right to be confident; every right to be hopeful that they will be contesting an Ulster final in two weeks’ time. Expectations have risen considerably for them, but they have the right men to soldier that burden.

Gary McDaid leaves no stone unturned. Paul Fisher has been working a lot on their conditioning and they are in such good shape. Their hard work really is paying off – and a win on Sunday is well within their grasp.

Glenswilly know the good and bad feelings of winning and losing in Ulster.

This weekend, they could make their biggest move yet.

 Ballinderry fancied

BALLINDERRY have been waiting in Ulster’s wings for a while now and they have a great pedigree.

Their semi-final on Sunday against Kilcoo promises to be a cracker. I’ve been tipping them for Ulster for a while now – and I think their game on Sunday promises to be a belter. Kilcoo’s two games against Crossmaglen were of an unbelievable standard and there were fantastic crowds, just short of 10,000, at both.

This is one of those that can work two ways: Kilcoo are on a roll and will, of course, be confident; but what have the Crossmaglen games taken out of them?


 Big ask for Milford

MILFORD did fantastically well to overcome Michael Davitts in their last game and they also face a big semi-final on Sunday when they take on Killeeshil, who have three-time All-Ireland winner Kevin ‘Hub’ Hughes at midfield. Hughes is in the twilight of his career now, but he’d love nothing more than  to go out with the bang of winning something with his club at provincial level.

Nigel Black and Milford are working brilliantly down there – and wouldn’t it be a mighty boost for Donegal if two of our teams were entering preparations for an Ulster final come Monday morning?

This is a big ask for Milford – but they’re in with a chance.

 Donegal readying for McKenna Cup

JIM McGuinness has around forty players working on programmes at the minute and the Dr McKenna Cup draw was made during the week, giving Donegal a good, competitive group including Tyrone and Armagh.

The competition starts with a bang – Donegal playing Tyrone. I’m sure the Ulster Council wanted some sort of an attractive game to boost their coffers.

The McKenna Cup will be well down on Jim’s priority list, but I think we should be targeting a good January this time around. We haven’t got much out of it in the past, but it does get difficult when you start to blood a lot of young players at the one time.

Tyrone always take it seriously and I think we should be looking at it in a similar vein. It can be used to get some of that confidence back too because confidence will be low.

Long way to Tipperary

Mentioning Armagh, Kieran McGeeney is back in there and what a work load he’ll have next year after agreeing to work on mental preparation with the Tipperary hurlers. It’s a long way to Tipperary, Kieran – but it can be longer on the way back in the dark of night given the workload of two inter-county teams!

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