There’s no better feeling than to be able to line out for your club in the county final. Players can spend their entire career and never get the chance to see that day.
What makes it so special is the entire town or village that you come from go to their extreme best to take part in the day; the flags and bunting go out, the children are dressed in the club colours and for the weeks before everyone is in great humour looking forward to the big day.
Neither Killybegs or Glenswilly would have set out the year thinking that they would even have a chance of the championship. The pundits had the likes of St. Eunan’s, Kilcar and Glenties as the teams to beat. Glenswilly would not have been expected to come through in the group stages especially after losing to Kilcar in the first game.
They were to0 good for Bundoran in the second game and had to travel to St. Michael’s, who themselves would have had visions of breaking their championship duck, but Glenswilly came through and into the quarter-finals.
Killybegs, on the other hand, got promotion in 2012 to Division One but took a heavy defeat to St . Eunan’s in the 2012 championship. This year has not been their best in the league, unable to get a win or even a draw in Division One, they have come through the championship without much of a fuss.
Their first game away to Gweedore ended in a draw; they struggled a bit against Termon but with qualification almost secured they had too much for Dungloe in the final match of the group. But to be fair many, including there own supporters, might have been forgiven for thinking that might be as far as we go.
The quarter-finals had Glenswilly back where they started the championship against Kilcar. Many believed that this could be the year Kilcar would make their breakthrough.
Glenswilly never gave them the room to play; they never gave the likes of Paddy McBrearty or the McHugh’ any opportunity to show there skills, while they have some brilliant footballers in the likes of Colin Kelly, Ciaran Bonner, Gary McFadden, Neil Gallagher and, of course, Michael Murphy.
Their main strength is that they work extremely hard as a team with as many players as possible getting behind the ball when they haven’t got possession. They’re fit and they know that if they can get enough ball into the likes of Gallagher or Murphy at full-forward they have a great chance.
Killybegs had to deal with Mac Cumhail’s in their quarter-final. Killybegs started the game well but were guilty of not taking their chances and but for the two goals scored by Hugh McFadden they might have found themselves in a bit of trouble.
But the self belief that has evaded them in the league is not found wanting when it comes to the championship and that was never more evident than in their semi-final win over Malin.
Malin came into the game after taking the scalp of St Eunan’s; they looked nervous on the ball and maybe the attention they received after beating last year’s champions might have got to them.
But if Malin did look unsure and nervous Killybegs didn’t and at times they moved the ball at great pace, defended well and kicked some great scores with some great performances coming from Jason Noctor, Shane Molloy, Christopher Murrin, Matthew Smyth, Brendan Boyle and Hugh McFadden.
Glenswilly got off to a flier against Ardara in their semi-final. Ardara set up with a sweeper early on and gave possession of the ball to the Glenswilly backs to work up the field. However when Ardara went back to playing a more traditional game they gave Glenswilly all they wanted and it was only the width of a post that denied them another game.
Neither Killybegs nor Glenswilly will go into the game without giving due respect and consideration to the opposition. Killybegs will know all about the strengths of Glenswilly but they will also know that they are not without weaknesses.
They will also know that Glenswilly will be expected to win. After all it is near enough the same side that won in 2011, whereas Killybegs have to look a long way back to find their last success at this level.
What will be the difference, it could be a bounce of the ball, a fifty fifty call by a match official or it could be a touch of brilliance from any player on the field; it’s down to that.
For those who can say they have a good idea who is going to win out such close games by quoting game plans or tactics are kidding you. These games can often be won on the finest of margins; nerves can play a big part, the occasion can get to players but hopefully it won’t be down to that.
Hopefully it’s not a mistake from someone that wins it. Regardless, I hope it’s a good game and the best team wins. (as long as they’re in red and white.)
PROUD DONEGAL MEN
Finally, we in Donegal do not get much of a say when it comes to national topics but in a week where both Michael Murphy is going to captain the Irish International Rules team and Seamie Coleman captained the Irish soccer team in Germany it just shows how great the youth of this sometimes forgotten county are.#
Well done lads.