Gibbons hoping to use experience to get over the line for Glenswilly

Gibbons hoping to use experience to get over the line for Glenswilly
Big Joe Gibbons is “waiting on video evidence” to see if he got a flick on for substitute Oisin Crawford’s late point to edge Glenswilly ahead against a battling Naomh Conaill side in the county semi-final last Sunday.

Big Joe Gibbons is “waiting on video evidence” to see if he got a flick on for substitute Oisin Crawford’s late point to edge Glenswilly ahead against a battling Naomh Conaill side in the county semi-final last Sunday.

Mairtin O’Direain, the great Galway Gaelic poet, would have described Big Joe as one of “na fir fada” or the “long men” who are very prevalent around the Hills of Glenswilly.

One wag has remarked that anyone less than six feet tall in the Glen must be a “blow in”.

Rural quips aside, Joe is just happy to be part of a truly remarkable journey for a very special rural club.

“I went in on it (the ball) and I think we were having a wee slag about that.

“I think I got a flick on it but I am waiting for the video evidence,” he joked.

But the lean and rangy defender said it was “nice to be up there to pressurise the keeper”.

But on Sunday the pressure on Joe and Co will be a lot more intense as he lines out against his workmates from four miles down the road in Letterkenny in a classic clichéd country and town clash.

Both teams have been in school together and also work together something that adds an understandable frisson to Sunday’s exchanges.

“For myself, who is working in Letterkenny, I will be listening to it from both ends all week.”

Most of the Glen team is based in Letterkenny including their two All-Stars Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher who recently opened a sports shop.

“We are neighbouring parishes and neighbouring clubs so we know each other very well”.

Glenswilly’s quarter-final win was relatively easier than last Sunday’s Glenties opponent’s route, but Gibbons (29) does not subscribe to the theory that Na Gleannta would be a bit tired after their two match tussle with Ardara.

“We thought Glenties would be a bit tired but with two minutes to go they did not look one bit tired.

“They were coming at us a lot harder than we expected because we thought they might have tired.

“But having matches week in and week out is a great way to run off a championship and I am definitely in favour of it (round robin).

“But if the county board put down definite dates for the championship it would be great as presently in Donegal, you can’t even plan a holiday”.

Joe’s Glenswilly are reigning county champions and were just a kick of a ball from taking an Ulster title last year.

Bit Gibbons does not believe that this background automatically translates into a concrete advantage.

“On Sunday it will be totally different and completely different conditions.

“St Eunan’s will be a massive task and they taught us a massive lesson in 2007 when they beat us easily”.

Joe is now playing his fourth final in seven years after the Glen took an historic and emotional title back in 2011.

“I never dreamt that.

“We just did not show up”.

But they certainly turned up this year after coming out of a very tough group that also included Senior League champions Kilcar and St Michael’s.

“In 2007 I maybe touched the ball about once or twice and it passed us by but that experience gave us the appetite and the hunger to go on and win a title for ourselves.

“When we got back the second time we knew what it took to win and it is the small things that get you over the line”.

Glenswilly have taken two county titles from three appearances and are now favourites to take a fourth title against a St Eunan’s side that are in transition.

“We had a tough draw.

“We were there to be knocked and everybody was going to try and knock us.

“From our point of view it was very frustrating as we were training from early January and our plan was mid August but it turned out that it was late September/early October before we got started.

“But when it got going it was very successful.

“We did not have a great start after losing to Kilcar just like last year as we tend to do it the hard way.

“But we knuckled down and got a good result against Bundoran a week later and that is what set the wheels in motion.”

And those wheels are still spinning towards a third Tir Chonaill county title, especially if Messrs Murphy and Gallagher are on song!