Eunan Mulholland with Glen stalwart John J McKenna. James Crombie/INPHO
Learnings and work ons

5 things we learned from the gloomy Glen win over foggy Crokes

Glen head into the All-Ireland final against St Brigid’s of Roscommon.

WITH DERRY AND Ulster champions Glen levelling up the score with All-Ireland final conquerors Kilmacud Crokes, we look back on what we learned about the whole business.


Hunger is a great sauce

How fine are we going to slice the margins? However fine they need to be.

The All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday represented a pause for the footballers of Kilmacud Crokes for the first time since they gathered at the start of 2021.

Their dominance in Dublin was followed by a Leinster monopoly and then two consecutive All Ireland finals. It’s a lot of football played but also a tonne of field and gym sessions. Their dedication in that time has been total.

Glen themselves began the 2021 season with a new manager in Malachy O’Rourke and have barely been off the road since.

conor-glass-arrives Conor Glass. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

But in the way they executed a brilliant high press in the 63rd minute, with Conor Glass dislodging the ball from Andrew McGowan’s grip for Ethan Doherty to tap home, shows there is still nothing like demented hunger.

Weather complaints Part 1

In defeat, the Kilmacud Crokes manager Robbie Brennan handled himself with the height of dignity.

Though you might not get that impression with some of the reports focussing on his belief that the game shouldn’t have been played in such conditions.

But he was far from a sore loser and it bears repeating what he said in defeat; “Hats off, better team, if we were to be beaten by someone, I’m glad it was Glen after all the shenanigans (over the final in 2023), they deserve their cut at it now.

robbie-brennan-late-in-the-game Robbie Brennan. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“As a management, as a club, as a group of players they carried themselves brilliantly, post it. Like, you never heard anything really coming out, testament to the type of club they are. Nothing but respect for them and no disrespect to Brigid’s but I hope for their sake they can go on and win it.”

Weather complaints Part 2

All the same, was the fog too thick for a game of such magnitude?

While it might have been difficult to see the far corners of the pitch, while on the field afterwards there was no doubt visibility was achievable for around a 70-metre distance.

If it had been a hurling match, this might have become an issue. But it left it very difficult for the television audience all the same.

TG4 might tend to think they are cursed with Newry of late, given they were left on tenterhooks with the county final after the withdrawal of referee Paul Faloon and his replacement, David Gough.

conor-lane-looks-on-during-the-game Conor Lane in the gloaming. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Pushing the competition’s completion point back into the calendar year would make little difference anyway. In Ireland, we are under threat of thick fog from October to March and more than this correspondent has covered National League games in April with sleet and snow blowing in.

Ten years ago…

On 6 October, 2013, Glen were in a big game with silverware on the line.

The Derry Intermediate final against Foreglen was a bridge too far for them however and they went down on a 3-9 to 1-11 scoreline.

That day, they were managed by Enda Gormley, who had brought most of the current senior team through underage and won the Ulster minor club tournament in St Paul’s for four years running from 2011.

connor-carville-celebrates-at-the-final-whistle Connor Carville played in the Intermediate final defeat to Foreglen in 2013. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Nine players who played in that defeat to Foreglen were on the squad for Sunday, along with a tenth, Johnny Bradley who is in the backroom team now.

Having gone 74 years without a senior championship from their founding, they have now won the Derry title three years running, the Ulster championship twice, and are in the All-Ireland final for the second year running.

Pitch battles

Prior to the game, we included a few theories in our preview while leaning towards Glen for the final outcome.

One strand of our logic was that Crokes had become so used to playing in Parnell Park and Croke Park that they could find Newry a difficulty.

They arranged a challenge match with Queen’s University on the pitch a fortnight out from this game, but still, thoughts of their defeat to Mullinalaghta in the Leinster final of 2018, played at O’Connor Park Tullamore, gave a strand of faith we clung to.

Simply put, the best players play their best football on the best pitches.

While Paul Mannion was good here, and Shane Walsh dangerous, they didn’t hit their usual heights. One occasion in the 26th minute, when Mannion was dispossessed by a combination of Ryan Dougan and Conor Glass brought a scream of delight from the Glen fans.

“We felt last year we gave them a little too much space to play, and the Newry field isn’t as big so we felt that would help as well,” said Malachy O’Rourke afterwards.

malachy-orourke-speaks-to-his-team-before-the-game Malachy O'Rourke speaks to his players. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

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