BY CHRIS MCNULTY
WHILE the Naomh Columba manager Brendan Doherty says that his team might be ‘punching above our weight in this competition’, the Glen men will enter tomorrow evening’s Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta semi-final with Cloughaneely (6.30pm) as favourites to advance to Monday’s final.
The Pairc na nGael side is on home soil in Glencolmcille this weekend and are up against a Cloughaneely side that is severely depleted.
When Joe McGarvey, the Cloughaneely manager, says ‘we might have trouble fielding’ his tone is not that of a man who’s having a laugh.
Up to ten of his players are at a stag party in Galway for the weekend, while several others are on soccer duty with a Glenea United team that can win the Donegal League Premier Division in Rathmullan.
Goalkeeper Shaun McClafferty, centre-back Paddy McClafferty as well as other hugely influential players like Kevin Mulhern, Shaun McGarvey, Declan McGarvey and Shaun Maguire are absent. Add in a suspended Denis Boyle and you begin to see the manager’s predicament.
“We’ll be very, very short,” he says.
“The reserves are up too, so we’ll have to double up. We’ve no other option.
“We’re badly depleted now.”
Cloughaneely, the 2011 All-Ireland Gaeltacht champions, lost in the League to Glenfin last Sunday, but McGarvey is hopeful that his young team, once he gets them together consistently during the summer, can make progress.
He says: “We have almost a whole new team. From last Sunday’s team, only two of them were over 30, the rest of them are all 25 or under and in that we have around six or seven players who are under 21 and two are minors.”
There’s a certain spring in Brendan Doherty’s step this week.
The newly-installed Naomh Columba manager is looking forward to a week that always captures the locals in Glen.
“There’ll be a big crowd in Glen for it – so we’ll be going out to try and get a win so that we’re playing in the final on Monday,” he says.
“To be honest, we’d be punching a wee bit above our weight in this competition, but we take a lot of pride in Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta – and we’ll give it one hell of a lash.
“We have nothing to fear in that we’re playing at home and it’s a weekend that everyone in Glen is looking forward to. We’ll give it a lash anyway.”
Doherty is in his first year as senior manager in Glen, taking over from Paddy J McGinley.
“I’m enjoying it, I really am,” he says.
“It was a job I always wanted – and I’m relishing it.”
His season so far, though, he says has been ‘topsy-turvy’: “We lost to Fanad the first day then we had two draws. We got a win against Aodh Ruadh and we thought we were going well again, until Naomh Brid gave us a bit of a reality check at the weekend. We gave away some bad goals and got nothing out of the game.
“There are only five games gone, so hopefully we can pick it up.
“We know where we’re at. We’re a mostly young side now because we’ve lost a few to emigration and lost a few to retirement. We have a lot of young players, but we’ve still plenty of experience too.”
Noel McGinley, Michael Maguire, Andrew O’Gara and Martin Cunningham give Glen an edge in key areas – and they can use it to their advantage against a weakened Cloughaneely.
Doherty says: “Cloughaneely is definitely a tough draw for us. This is our fourth or fifth year in Division 3, whereas Cloughaneely were in Division 1 last year.”
Verdict: Naomh Columba