GAA Football

Glenties forward Eoghan McGettigan enters unknown territory as Kilcoo await in Ulster final showdown

Naomh Conaill's Ultan Doherty takes on Clontibret's Brian Greenan on Saturday night. Pic Philip Walsh.
Andy Watters

GLENTIES forward Eoghan McGettigan admits he doesn’t know anything about Kilcoo and has never seen them play but you can guarantee that he’ll be well-versed on the Down champions and the man-marking Branagan brothers after the Ulster club final in a fortnight’s time.

McGettigan top-scored for the Donegal side in Saturday night’s Ulster semi-final win over Clontibret, finishing the game with six points and his movement, deceptive strength on the ball and shooting were all impressive.

The Naomh Conall outfit are by no means a one-man team but shutting him down will be high on the Magpies’ list of defensive priorities for the final.

“I know nothing about Kilcoo,” admitted McGettigan.

“I haven’t watched any of their games or anything. We just go at it ourselves, we let the management watch them and take bits from it and we’ll turn up on the day and give it our all. I’ll go out and try my best.”

The McGettigan family could set an unusual record in the Ulster final on December 1. Barring injury, Eoghan is likely to be accompanied in the starting line-up by his uncle Kevin, three years his senior, who plays as an attacking corner-back.

Both McGettigans were on the scoresheet last Saturday night as Glenties roared into a 0-6 to 0-1 first half lead with five unanswered points that left them in control of the game.

“The work goes on in the middle third and the back line, we’re just there to finishing it off,” said Eoghan, who was brought into the Donegal panel for the 2019 Championship campaign and will hope to get his debut next year.

“Thankfully we got the chances tonight and we took them and getting that lead gave us a great platform at the start to kick on from. It’s hard to keep that up and they chipped a few back but we kept chipping away at the other end to stay that bit ahead.

“They did close it back and we were thinking – are we going to get caught here? – but thankfully Anthony (Thompson) and Leo (McLoone) and them boys have the right heads for those situations and they were able to keep the ship steady.”

While McGettigan was doing his stuff up front, Ultan Doherty was minding the Naomh Conall house at the back. He helped to shut down the obvious threat of Conor McManus and Clontibret never looked like scoring a goal – Glenties have only conceded three in 10 championship games this season.

“I got back to double up on him (McManus),” he said.

“He’s a savage player and we knew if we could nullify McManus we would have a great chance of winning this game. The boys did that at the back and thankfully we just got over the line.

“In the last five minutes, when the ball was being kicked in I got a few nerves but we haven’t conceded many goals in the championship this year so we were confident we could keep them out and hang on to get the win.”

Doherty could be assigned a man-marking role on Conor Laverty in the final and Kilcoo will face a huge challenge to win primary possession in midfield where Leo McLoone and Ciaran Thompson were outstanding on Saturday night. Around them, Glenties had an army of eager break-ball winners.

“When you’re playing with experienced bucks like them you get the confidence,” said Doherty.

“Ciaran Thompson was savage; he caught some great ball and kicked some great scores. Leo caught some ball too and so did big Kieran Thompson. There’s good height around the middle and we win most of our battles around midfield.”

Doherty is looking forward to his first Ulster final, only the second in the club’s history. The Naomh Conall club’s only previous appearance was back in 2010 when the Donegal representatives led at half-time but lost 2-9 to 0-10 against an Oisin McConville-inspired Crossmaglen.

“I’m looking forward to it now,” he said.

“We’ll give it a good rattle and it’s going to be a tough game. They’re there on merit, they won their county and they’ve beaten two tough teams to get this far. It’ll be a battle and we’ll have to dig deep top win it.”

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