Hard to see past Kilcar in this one

Hard to see past Kilcar in this one

As the players and backroom teams of both Kilcar and Glenswilly put their final preparations for next Sunday’s county final, who will take home the coveted title for 2016?

For a team that haven’t been in a county final since 1993, the Kilcar men come in as resounding favourites. Their destruction of Glenties in the semi-final was as impressive as I have seen from such a young side for a long time. Their ability to move the ball at pace through the hands and the speed at which they break out of defence is extremely difficult to defend against.

Once Kilcar settled against Glenties they worked the ball through the hands down the wings; they didn’t take the ball into the tackle but attacked with pace around the outside and the Glenties defence had no answer.

They did become unsettled after the bit of handbags in the second half and Glenties could have got back into the game but for a poor penalty kick but Kilcar through the McHughs, the very impressive Paddy McBrearty, his brother Stephen, Ciaran McGinley and the evergreen Michael Hegarty, got back in control.

Of course it’s no surprise that Kilcar are at the level they are. Huge success with many of this group at underage level under John McNulty has paid dividends; also the experience of Martin and James McHugh along with a very impressive backroom team, has brought them to a new level. Their preparations have been up there with many county teams and nothing has been spared in their quest for a title they last won 23 years ago.

Glenswilly have been here before, winning titles in 2011 and 2013. They are used to the big game experience; they have seen this scenario before where they came into a final where many were not given much hope. The semi-final between Kilcar and Glenties was billed by many as the county final. Glenswilly management and players will feed off that; they will love having to come into the game as underdogs. But they will be worried. Very few teams at club level have the capacity to stop the type of pace Kilcar have in their squad.

Glenswilly will set up defensively and play both Murphy and Neil Gallagher in a more attacking role. If they can keep it tight at the back and don’t concede goals and maybe nip one or two at the other end they may have a chance.

However they will not be able to stand off Kilcar either. In all their games this year they have put up some impressive numbers in the scoring stakes; they kicked some great points from distance in the semi-final.

Glenswilly will look to the likes of Joe Gibbons, Caolan Kelly, Oisin Crawford along with Gary McFadden to support Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy to give them the best chance to cause what would be a major upset.

Glenswilly had to work hard against Malin in the semi-final in windy conditions. They drew on all their experience to come through that one but will know that they will have to up their game if they’re to have a chance to lift their third title. Their discipline will have to be at it’s very best. Kilcar protect their full-back line by taking everyone behind the ball when they’re not in possession and then if they turn over the ball they break at lightening pace working the ball to their go-to forwards.

I would expect Glenswilly to set up the same but I don’t think they will break with the same numbers and hope that the likes of Gallagher, Murphy and McFadden can get on the ball in the scoring zone.

If you’re coming to the game hoping for an open entertaining game, don’t be surprised if you go home disappointed. Finals are hard to get too, and when you get there you will do almost anything you can to make sure you get over the line. These players have trained for years to get to this final; they’re not going to throw that away just for the sake of entertainment or playing the game a certain way.

This will mean a lot for both sides. Kilcar have had huge success at minor and U-21 level but winning a senior championship is what it’s all about. They have invested heavily in this side and know the breakthrough will only happen if they make it happen.

Glenswilly have nothing to lose in this final. They will go after where they perceive there is a weakness in the Kilcar side and with most of these lads having already experienced playing in a county senior final it should help them to settle early but it will count for nothing if they don’t match the hunger that I expect Kilcar to play with. They will have to slow the game down when they’re not in possession and move the ball quickly when they are in possession.

It’s hard to look past Kilcar. They have an exceptional bunch of players who have a great record of success and have been the best side in Donegal this year, but if anyone thinks that Glenswilly will roll over they need to think again.


The draw between Burt and Milford has thrown up one of those weekends that irate players and management who have worked tediously throughout the year only to have their season put up in smoke. The replay for the intermediate final is on Saturday; the winners will be expected to play the first round of the Ulster intermediate championship on Sunday; player welfare my backside. Never mind about respect.