The Aodh Ruadh and Glenfin personnel at the final launch with referee Enda McFeely Photo Geraldine Diver
When Glenfin were last winners in the Donegal Intermediate Football Championship current captain Gerard Ward was a small boy, but he remembers it well.
His uncle Frank Ward was on the team and his father Liam was on the subs bench. The year was 2001.
And while Frank Ward was among a handful of old stagers still earning their corn, the team was back-boned by a crop of young players who were being brought through the club’s underage system.
“I remember it well. It was a great feeling and there are similarities with that team and the current team,” Gerard Ward told the Democrat.
“That team was backboned by a great U21 team that won the U21 championship the following year.
“Players like Stephen McDermott, Kevin and Michael McGlynn, Mark McGinty, Hugh Foy and Malachy Martin.
“They were all in the 19, 20 and 21 age bracket.”
The 2001 team defeated Malin 1-13 to 0-7 and the U21 team that won the U21 championship defeated Aodh Ruadh 1-9 to 0-9, in the 2002 final.
“We have an awful lot of good young footballers coming through on this team too and hopefully on Sunday we can go out and give a good account of ourselves,” Ward added.
It is for that reason that the skipper is looking forward to leading the current young crop out on the hallowed sod of MacCumhaill Park on Sunday afternoon.
It has been a trying season for Ward and his team, from at one stage being prime candidates for relegation to Division Three, to survival, and now a good championship that has seen a young Glenfin side reach the edge of the Promised Land and County Intermediate final day. The latter half of the season has been character building and none more so than last Sunday’s semi-final in difficult conditions against St Naul’s in Ardara.
“If you look at our league form in the middle of the summer we were not looking too hot,” Ward said.
“But we pulled ourselves together and we have carried that form into the championship.
“In the championship itself I wouldn’t say we were setting the world alight and we just about able to drag ourselves through the group stages.
“I think our best performance in the championship was against Naomh Brid in the quarter-final in Mountcharles.
“Last Sunday’s game in Ardara was never going to be pretty game. It was a terrible day. We knew St Naul’s well and they knew us well and it was just a dog fight and we were lucky to come out on the right side of the result.”
Glenfin were in the same group as Cloughaneely, Naomh Brid and Buncrana.
“When we looked at the draw at the start of the year we had two Division Three teams and a Division One team in the group.
“We thought if we beat the two Division Three teams and put up a good show against Cloughaneely, the Division One team, we would have been happy enough.
“But as it turned out we beat Cloughaneely and drew with the two Division Two teams. I suppose that shows how good they were and it was a real tough group.”
After a number of seasons in transition Glenfin have a somewhat settled look about them this season.
“This team has changed a lot since 2012 and 2013 and it has got a little more settled this year. We kinda know from week to week the team that will be going out.
“A lot of the older brigade of Kevin McGlynn, Mark McGinty, Michael McGlynn and Stephen McDermott have moved on and the younger lads are coming through.The young lads are great.
“They are fast and our half forward line is full of speed with Jason Morrow ,Karl McGlynn,Eoghan and Mattie Donlon and Conor Ward.”
“They are all very fast and the give us a great outlet when we win the ball in the half backline to get the ball up the field and into the full forward.”
What of Aodh Ruadh?
“We played them a couple of years ago in a Division Two relegation game down in Convoy under lights and we were very lucky to come out of that game with a win.
“They hit the post and everything apart from the net. We ended up winning that game by a point and stayed up in Division 2 and they stayed in Division 3.
“They have since come up from Division Three to Division Two in 2017 and they trail-blazed it up to Division Two and won promotion to Division One.
“They are scoring a lot of goals and they know how to find the back of the net and are doing it on a regular basis.
They have a number of very speedy forwards and they are a big physical side and it is going to be a massive challenge for us.
“We are going to have to get to a new level and play better than we did in any game all season if we are to be in with a chance.
“We feel we are improving with every game and if we can go out and get a performance and score a couple of goals we can win.”