11 November 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Joint Glenswilly boss Gary McDaid sounds a note of cautious optimism ahead of this Sunday’s Ulster Club SFC test with KEVIN CARNEY

Punters in Breffni land won’t need reminding that it’s Glenswilly and not Cavan Gaels who’ll go toe-to-toe with Latton this Sunday in the quarter-final of the Ulster club SFC.
MacCumhaill Park, circa 2.30pm, is destined to feel like Rio De Janiero without the carnival for any exiled Breffni blues that may pop into the Ballybofey bastion of Gaelic games for a cheap gawk at what might have been.
Glenswilly didn’t read the script last time out of course, turning Breffni Park into a killing field for Cavan Gaels’ high hopes of crossing swords with the O Rahillys. Glenswilly beat (1-8 to 0-10) the Cavan champions in spite of themselves and, therein, lies a warning for the Oriel’s finest. The surprise Donegal champions appeared nervous, tentative and lacked self-belief for large tracts of the match before a Michael Murphy penalty in the dregs of the game propelled them over the line.
Next Sunday’s hosts showed the Gaels that they are far from a one trick pony and while the totemic Murphy was the go-to guy for his team, General Murphy had many lieutenants in support.
Significantly, Glenswilly’s joint team-manager Gary McDaid insists that neither his charges nor Latton can afford to depend on any one stellar figure to get them through to the semi-finals.
“Michael (Murphy) is a big, big player for us but he’d be the first to admit that we have gotten to this stage because of a fantastic effort by the whole panel,” McDaid opined.
“We went to Breffni Park for the preliminary round game expecting a tough time looking after Seanie Johnston but we weren’t surprised that Cavan Gaels had a lot more in their armoury than him.
“It’s the same with Latton. Their best known player, up here in Donegal, would be Eoin Lennon but we’re not bargaining on having to just tame him to give us the win we want this Sunday.”
Murphy notched 1-7 as unfancied Glenswilly claimed their first ever Donegal SFC title by defeating St. Michael’s by 1-8 to 0-9 in the final in Ballybofey.
His goal in the 42nd minute – the game’s defining score fairly showcased Murphy’s fetching ability, power and clinical finishing.
However, those close to the Tir Chonaill football scene back up manager McDaid’s assertion that Glenswilly are much more about the collective than the individual with midfielder Gary McFadden a distinct threat going forward and a regular scorer in league and championship arenas in Donegal.
Elsewhere, Murphy’s county colleague Neil Gallagher is another bullwark of the team and has been showing the form that made him a luminary of the county team he captained to NFL success in 2007 before falling slightly out of favour with Donegal boss Jim McGuinness in 2011.
Ciaran Bonner is another Glenswilly player with senior county experience. He was introduced into the Glenswilly forward line in the 46th minute of last month’s county final and is recovering well from having an operation on his knee in early September.
By and large, Glenswilly’s style of play is close to being a carbon copy of the successful model used at county level by the aforementioned McGuinness except that Murphy is more often than not used as a target man by his club and sited as close to goal for as long as possible.
At the other end of the field, Glenswilly have been very solid in defence all year in this year’s championship and have conceded just one goal in the campaign and have conceded an average of just nine points per game too.
Their miserly work in defending their goal is all the more admirable given that their six domestic championship games included two ties (winning the replay in Glenties) with 2010 Ulster club finalists Naomh Conaill (1-12 to 1-11 victors over hosts Kingscourt Stars in last year’s corresponding tie) and then a quarter-final match against erstwhile long-term Donegal kingpins St. Eunan’s of Letterkenny.
Packing the defence, raiding quickly on the counter-attack and dervish-like in their work rate, the new Donegal champions pride themselves on not coughing up scores easily.
One of the team’s key men in defence this year has been Glenswilly’s Monaghan native full-back Eamon Ward who is a Monaghan SFC winner with Clontibret.
In contrast to their poor league form this year, the Gary McDaid/John McGinley-managed Glenswilly squad has demonstrated serious diligence at the back to date in the championship this year, have a tigerish midfield and have a trump card up front in Murphy which makes for a decent mix in anyone’s lanquage.
Full story in The Northern Standard

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