GAA Football

Donegal SFC final will pit Kilcar's speed against Glenswilly's strength

County team-mates Michael Murphy and Ryan McHugh will be on opposites sides in Ballybofey tomorrow when Glenswilly and Kilcar meet for the Donegal SFC title. Picture by Colm O’Reilly
Gerry McLaughlin

Michael Murphy Sports & Leisure Donegal Senior Football Championship final: Glenswilly v Kilcar (tomorrow, MacCumhaill Park, 4pm)

While it would be wrong to categorise tomorrow’s Donegal SFC final as a battle between the speed of Kilcar and the strength of Glenswilly, there is an element of truth in that otherwise somewhat trite observation.

When told of the imposing physique of his team, Glenswilly captain Gary McFadden rightly points out that it will count for nothing if “we can’t keep up with Kilcar”.

But what is undeniable is the sheer championship pedigree of Glenswilly. Tomorrow they will be appearing in four out of the last six county finals after reaching their first and losing against St Eunan’s in 2007.

They were victorious in 2011 and 2013 and reached the Ulster final the second year, losing to Ballinderry. They were only beaten by two points by St Eunan’s in the 2014 county final.

But the big talking point in Tir Chonaill is the manner in which they have turned around a pretty disastrous start to the season to be on the cusp of yet another title.

So why did it take them so long to register when it really matters? Undoubtedly the return of Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher are two huge factors.

But they also had up to 10 players injured at the start of the season, which severely stunted their league challenge.

“We had a good few injuries at the start of the year and we just kept playing away at games,’’ said McFadden.

"There was up to nine or 10 players injured and we had boys playing county as well.

“It was a struggle to field teams for a while and a couple of times we could not field a reserve team because we had been taking players from them for the senior team.

“We lost against Ardara in the championship and Michael Murphy got injured in the first minute, but he played on even though he was only on one leg.

“So we knew that every game after that was a knockout game and always seem to do better when our backs were to the wall.

“We beat Dungloe and had a few men back for that one and we scraped through, beat MacCumhaill’s and then Malin, another close one, in the semi-final.”

But apart from the championship McFadden and the Glen still have a big interest in the league as they have a relegation play-off against Termon coming up shortly.

“That was put off but it has been a great turnaround for us and Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher are big players for us. They are big players for the county, never mind our club.

“I was playing midfield all year but when Neil came back it allowed me to go back into the forward line and it takes the pressure off and before this we did not have too many forwards when Michael wasn’t there”

“Neil came back and steadied up the middle and Michael is a focal point up front. They are like two big anchors.”

The already physically imposing Glenswilly could be even more formidable as strength and conditioning coach Adam Speers has been working with the club this year.

“He is a great man to have but there is no point in being six foot if Kilcar has a few wee men that are flying and you are not able to catch them,” said McFadden.

“We need to adapt as they have threats all over the field from a pacey half back-line with the McHughs [Ryan and Mark] and Mark is sweeping and makes an odd run from deep.

“Michael Hegarty and Ciaran McGinley at midfield are also chipping in with scores and the McBreartys [Patrick and Stephen] and Eoin McHugh are inside.

‘They are well balanced and play the game at a ferocious pace and they are in great shape and Michael Hegarty is as fit as I have ever seen him.

“They seem to have put in a phenomenal effort this year and they will be very hard to stop and they were only beaten twice this year, in starred games so it will be a huge task for us.”

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