The Sporting Diary

with Sports Editor Peter Campbell

The Sporting Diary

Thank God for Frank McGlynn

He was the only member of the Democrat jury to side with Glenswilly last week. Married to a Glenswilly woman and teaching in the area, many said Frank McGlynn was compromised!

But he was right. And so many of the rest of us were way off the mark. We were all taken in by the champagne football of Kilcar in the semi-final win over Naomh Conaill. We didn’t factor in a number of things; the weather and the capacity for Glenswilly to come up with a game plan.

They also had Michael Murphy!

We should have known better. Murphy, on any given day, can give Glenswilly a fighting chance, and on Sunday last he once again showed why he is the best footballer this county has ever seen.

His leadership has inspired his club colleagues to play among and beyond their previous levels. Along with Neil Gallagher, and the backroom team, he has set the standard. You might have natural talent, but unless you are also willing to put in the work, little can be achieved. On Sunday, Murphy worked his socks off. As well as hitting 1-5 (and being directly involved in at least three more of their tally of 1-10), he was the fulcrum of their defence.

I can remember Neil Gallagher putting one pass astray! The words of captain, Gary McFadden, in the previews, came back to mind, “We will have to be careful with the ball if we are to win”!

They were very careful with the ball; just two wides, one in each half. They also got some super performances from their lesser known players. Ciaran Gibbons hit the point of the game in the opening half; and followed it up with another in the second. After Murphy, Big Neil and Ciaran Gibbons, I thought Cathal Gallagher was the next most influential, playing like someone who knew what he had to do.

Others like Eamonn Ward, Cormac Callaghan and Gary McFadden played their part; Ward doing a very good policing job on Patrick McBrearty.

And what of Kilcar? The big talking point afterwards was that they didn’t have a Plan B. I don’t buy that. They don’t have a target man to change to a Plan B. They can have no complaints because they had chances but hit some bad wides. They got within a point on three occasions in the second half but couldn’t get level.

That was down to Glenswilly and they must get all the credit. They were the better team on the day.

The one area where Kilcar did come up short on was a plan, or lack of it, to curtail Michael Murphy or Neil Gallagher when they went to the edge of the square. Far too often Conor McShane was left one-on-one with Murphy. It was very unfair on McShane, asking him to curtail one of the best full-forwards the game has ever seen. It was a disaster waiting to happen and it backfired spectacularly.

Did all the hype get to Kilcar? There was a great buzz in the parish with many people returning home for their final appearance. And then there was huge expectation after their run to the final.

But this was Glenswilly’s day. It was another of those special Michael Murphy days - three finals; three man of the match performances. He has two All-Stars and quite easily could end his career with just the two, which would be rough justice. His total application to the team ethic is working against him getting his just rewards. He didn’t even get a nomination this year.

However, he now has three Donegal and three Ulster medals, and he has been a central figure in all of those successes.

He has set the target for every other player playing the game in this county.

Sad day for rugby

County final day in Ballybofey began on a very sad note when word came through of the sudden passing of Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley, the Munster coach and former captain. Foley was one of those players that you could only marvel at. He did his business in a controlled and no nonsense way, always seeming to make the right decision.

He was a sort of ‘Michael Murphy’ of rugby, working unselfishly for the team. His part in the famous try scored by Keith Wood against England at Twickenham will remain one of my memories; creating the space at the back of the line-out with his pass for Wood to attack and drive over the line.

His passing at such a young age is a travesty for his family, who are steeped in rugby. However, his memory will live on.

Big game for Harps

Just when we thought they were safe, Finn Harps find themselves with another big game this Friday night when they make the long trek to Wexford to take on the locals in the second last game of the season.

A draw will all but ensure their survival in the top flight, but defeat will turn the final game into a nail-biting affair. Wexford are six points behind going into Friday night’s game, with a game in hand. It is their last home game, as they must travel to Cork on Monday night before the final series of games on Friday week, 28th - Finn Harps at home to Bohemian FC and Wexford Youths away to Sligo Rovers.

While the six point lead should be enough as it stands, a share of the spoils on Friday night is all that’s needed to ease all the worries.