Form is temporary and class is permanent. Looking at next Sunday’s Senior Championship decider, both form and class are on view.
Kilcar provide the form (with plenty of class too) while Glenswilly have the class in two of the best footballers we have had the pleasure to witness in Donegal in recent years in Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy.
Kilcar are back in a county final after a very long wait. And much water has made its way to Towney Bay since they overcame then favourites, Killybegs, back in 1993.
Much has changed since then, not least the preparation of teams. Could you imagine the Kilcar players participating in an ‘Up for the Match’ special in the pubs of thetown this Saturday night? Well that’s what happened back in 1993, and you can watch that on YouTube.
If any of today’s panel were caught about town next Saturday night, then Martin McHugh would be leaving them at home on Sunday morning.
There have been changes in Glenswilly also. Back in 1993, they were in Division Four of the League and competing in the Junior Championship. They had just moved into their new ground at Foxhall, and had a magnificent league, winning all of their 20 games. They got to the semi-final of the Junior Championship, only to lose out to . . . Kilcar.
Glenswilly did not, however, make massive strides until they produced an U-21 team that won the U-21B Championship in 2003, defeating Naomh Ultan in the final in Ardara by 2-17 to 0-3. That team included Neil Gallagher and Ciaran Bonner, and the graph of the club continued to rise from then until they won their first senior title in 2011.
By that time Michael Murphy was in position, and they have been one of the standard bearers in the county ever since.
They are being quoted at 100/30 by the bookies for Sunday’s final, which is a reflection of the form shown by Kilcar, especially their display against Naomh Conaill in the semi-final.
But will Sunday’s game be as open and free-flowing as that Kilcar-Naomh Conaill game. Hardly.
Glenswilly, as hinted by Gary McFadden in his interview at the Co. final press launch, will have a defensive plan and will have it fine tuned.
So it will be a battle of tactics. Kilcar will probably be allowed to take their kick-outs short and build from there. They will be hoping for a dry day, which will give them the conditions for ball carrying.
There is no doubt that they have an advantage as regards pace. A few years ago they met Glenswilly in MacCumhaill Park but were unable to handle the Glen men’s physicality. They will have to deal with that again on Sunday and keep their composure.
If they do bring the Dr. Maguire home on Sunday evening, they might be thankful for the challenge they got from Termon in the quarter-final. It wasn’t pretty, but it presented the young Kilcar team with a challenge which they rose to.
On Sunday, Glenswilly will be a much tougher proposition. The Glen men have a mental toughness which has been harnessed over a ten year period and they will come prepared. The question is will Glenswilly be able to build enough walls to stop the Kilcar juggernaut.
There will be those neutrals who would like to see the likes of Michael Hegarty finally picking up a senior championship medal. The midfielder, one of the finest players to grace the fields of Donegal over the past 20 years, would be very deserving of the honour, but he will have to earn it.
He has been so consistent in the championship this year, scoring in every Kilcar championship match and in the last two games he has notched 0-4 against Termon and 1-1 against Naomh Conaill, and would be in the running for the Gradam Shéamuis Mhic Géidigh, the award in memory of the late Seamus for the player of the club championship.
Hegarty has notched 1-10 in the five games and is joint third top scorer.
He has been a leader alongside captain Ciaran McGinley at midfield, while the pace of the McHughs, McBreartys and McCleans have been the perfect foil.
Glenswilly have come with a late run to be in the final and in some ways they have had the easier path. Their scalps - Dungloe, Bundoran, MacCumhaill’s and Malin - just don’t look as impressive as St. Michael’s, Killybegs, Termon and Naomh Conaill.
In their favour, they didn’t have the full deck until the last few matches. When you have Neil Gallagher and Michael Murphy on the field, you always have a chance.
One feels that Glenswilly will have to score at least one goal and also deprive Kilcar of a three pointer if they are to prevail. They are capable of that, but on form (and class) it would seem that Kilcar have the edge. Their young contingent are a little more battle hardened than the last time they met in the championship and they should not lack for hunger (after 23 years).
Sean McGinley was the first Kilcar man to lift the Dr. Maguire (there was no final played in 1925 when Kilcar were declared the winners in a very controversial year). Sean’s son, Ciaran, is captain on Sunday and can join the select band of Kilcar men to lift the cup.