Less than two weeks ago, Glenswilly manager Gary McDaid remarked:“The Glen against St Gall’s - that has a nice ring to it!”
St Gall’s 0-10
After winning a second Raidió na Gaeltachta SFC last month, McDaid was presumably taking stock of just how far his club have come in only their eighth year in the senior bracket.
But yesterday, Glenswilly took another giant leap for mankind as they toppled the 2010 All-Ireland champions in the AIB Ulster Club Championship quarter-final.
For some, although the celebrations were more muted, it was even more pleasing that the 3-19 to 2-6 win over Killybegs on their last visit to MacCumhaill Park.
One thing that McDaid’s team have mastered is their abilities to play to their strengths, while a facet they have developed is the need to retain composure.
Yesterday, in the heavy underfoot conditions of Ballybofey, they did both.
The power of the collective is so much that Aidan McDevitt, a carpenter by trade, fell off a roof this week and still togged to play.
In the end, McDevitt had to stand aside after pushing himself to within inches in a pre-match fitness test.
St Gall’s certainly edged the possession and territory statistics in the first half but still went in four points behind after Michael Murphy’s penalty on 25 minutes swung the balance of power in favour of the underdogs.
Murphy was pulled down by Andrew McClean, the St Gall’s full-back, after a booming ball into the square by Gary McFadden.
The Belfast side complained at the decision of referee Padraig Hughes but Murphy, unperturbed, dusted himself off before shooting into Chris Kerr’s top corner.
St Gall’s opened brightly with pointed frees from Conor McGourty and Kevin Niblock, while Anto Healy scored from play to establish a 0-4 to 0-2 advantage.
But McDaid’s Glenswilly kept in touch with scores from Neil Gallagher and Kealan McFadden, while the third of Gary McFadden’s three first half points made it 1-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
Glenswilly’s growing maturity as a club was evident in the second half as they played the situation not the occasion.
St Gall’s occasionally came within two points but were wasteful in front of goal, kicking 11 wides to their hosts’ two.
Murphy scored four second half points, two plumply struck 45s and a free, as well as a trademarked effort when he fetched overhead before scoring on the turn.
Substitute Brian Farrelly also posted a point, in his case seconds after coming off the bench, to further emphasise the power of the collective.
Glenswilly can mix it if they like but proved they can be animalistic, in the nicest sense of the word. They hunted in packs and constantly worked for one another.
St Gall’s were always in the match but scored just four points from play on a disappointing day for Carl McCabe’s team.
There was a brilliant moment in the last few minutes when Murphy picked up possession just inside the St Gall’s half of the field.
It was a time in the game when Glenswilly needed to draw on that composure.
Murphy held tight onto the ball as he made his way right through what was, as they used to say in the secondary schools, a chicken-walk of defenders.
He came out the other end just to show that he, like his team, were capable of moving up to another gear.
Glenswilly continue to pen those glorious chapters into uncharted territory. Roslea, the Fermanagh champions, lie in wait in the semi-final later his month.
And there’s a lot more than McDaid who think there’s a nice ring to the sound of that.
Glenswilly: Philip O’Donnell; Brian McDaid, Eamon Ward, Ruairí Crawford; Caolán Kelly, James Pat McDaid, John McFadden; Neil Gallagher (0-1), Ciaran Bonner; Joe Gibbons, Gary McFadden (0-3, 3f), Darren McGinley; Colin Kelly, Michael Murphy (1-4, 1-0 pen, 1f, 2 ‘45), Kealan McFadden (0-1). Subs: Cathal Gallagher for J McDaid (49), Brian Farrelly (0-1) for K McFadden (53), Ryan Diver for McGinley (60)
St Gall’s: Chris Kerr; Andrew McClean, Colin Brady, Ruairi Wilson; Sean Kelly, Jackson McGeevy, Anto Healy (0-1); Sean Burke (0-1), Aodhan Gallagher; Terry O’Neill, Kevin Niblock (0-1f), Kieran McGourty; Conor McGourty (0-5, 4f), Michael Pollock (0-1), Niall O’Neill. Subs: Brendan Bradley for McGreevy (43), Karl Stewart (0-1) for K McGourty (43), Sean O’Hara for N O’Neill (47), Conor Burke for S Burke (56)
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).