GAA Football

Niall McParland savours Glenn success after Arabian flight for final showdown

Niall McParland travelled home from the Qatari capital Doha on Thursday, before featuring for Glenn in their Down intermediate success on Sunday. Picture by Cliff Donaldson
Neil Loughran

FORMER Down captain Niall McParland hasn’t ruled out the possibility of featuring for the Mournemen at some point next summer – but the club was all that mattered as he stood amid a sea of black and yellow on Sunday afternoon.

McParland has been teaching in Doha since last year, but returned home to help Glenn land the Down intermediate title after they edged a ding-dong battle with Newry Shamrocks at Pairc Esler.

“It’s been a quick few days alright, a quick turnaround,” said McParland, who only arrived home on Thursday following a 10-hour flight from the Qatari capital.

“I love the club and I didn’t take the decision to leave lightly… it was a hard decision for me, then watching the boys come this far and not being part of it was really tough to take.

“Because I’m a teacher I was able to play the first round of the championship and about six league games during the summer, so it was always an idea if we got this far I’d like to come back and help out.

“The club has been very good to me, helped me get home, so I was just glad to play a part in it, no matter how small it was.”

Despite his travels, McParland played the full 60-plus minutes as Glenn got over the line – though he admits a lack of match practice took a toll towards the end.

“Struggling’s the word for it alright!

“We made it hard for ourselves, we were maybe a bit nervous – it’s about 10 years since we were in a final, so there was a bit of jitters.

“The chance to win something with the club doesn’t come around too often so we just wanted to get over the line. Sometimes that makes it all the harder.”

Once the celebrations die down, the focus for Glenn will turn to Ulster.

For McParland, though, Sunday’s win most likely marks the end of the road for this campaign – but he predicts good times ahead for the club.

“I’ll not be flying back every other weekend, but this a good step for the club - a taste of success.

“We’ve the two Millars [Shay and Ronan] away in Australia, Denis Murtagh, we’ve big things coming at this club. This is only the start of it, intermediate and then hopefully senior within the next couple of years as well.

“We drew with Warrenpoint in the senior championship last year, they’re an inspiration to us, there’s a lot of boys our age and we’ll be trying to emulate them in the next couple of years. They’ll be the boys to be battling it out with hopefully.”

And with Down boss Paddy Tally counting the cost of having so many players currently abroad - including the aforementioned Millar brothers, Gerard McGovern, Conor Francis and Anthony Doherty - McParland could be available to play some part for the red and black next summer.

“This is my last year in Doha - I’ll be back in June full-time,” he said.

“Possibly, if Down get long enough in the summer, if Paddy will have me back maybe. We’ll see how it goes.”

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