'Last year is irrelevant' says Glen manager Jude Donnelly
GLEN manager Jude Donnelly doesn't feel his side's stunning victory over Slaughtneil in last year's championship will have any bearing on this weekend's quarter-final clash against the same opposition.
Watty Graham's and Slaughtneil left the Owenbeg crowd purring in excitement last year after Glen stunned their rivals to reach their first ever Derry senior championship final.
“Last year was a fantastic game, but it's all about Sunday, really,” said Donnelly.
“It's irrelevant now. If anything, Slaughtneil might be going in that wee bit hungrier, with losing last year.
“The mood in our camp at the minute is good. The boys are in good shape and we have probably a full panel to pick from, which makes a big difference.”
Glen's major change in personnel from 2019 has been in goal, where former outfield player Connlan Bradley has taken over from Callum Mullan-Young.
Connlan's late save secured a morale-boosting group stage win over champions Magherafelt, and Donnelly is pleased with the impact the 29-year-old has made since the start of the season.
“He's been super, to be quite honest. We're blessed with four keepers, but Connlan was asked at the start of the year,” he said.
“We just felt we needed reassurance from kick outs. Connlan got his chance and he hasn't looked back to be fair; his kick outs and command of the square have been great.”
On Sunday, Ryan Dougan is likely to be the man charged with doubling up on the dangerous Shane McGuigan, with Emmet Bradley to remain around the middle.
Donnelly, though, says it would be naïve to just concentrate on McGuigan's threat.
“We'll keep an eye on Shane, but they have Cormac O'Doherty and Sammy too to look after,” he said.
“Last year, we did well with out defensive set up to curb those boys, so we're hoping for much the same on Sunday.”
Oran McGill and Oisín Hegarty will also be bracing themselves for battles with Christopher Bradley and Brian Cassidy, but their own attacking division will ask questions of the Emmet's defence too.
The precocious Alex Doherty exploded onto the scene last year, while Paul Gunning, Danny Tallon and Conleth McGuckin will give Slaughtneil plenty to think about.
The ability of Jack Doherty to curb the hugely influential Chrissy McKaigue and Ciaran McFaul to get the upper hand in midfield will be key to Glen's chances.
With intriguing battles all over the pitch, Jude Donnelly is expecting another thriller.
“I would think Slaughtneil will come with a more defensive structure this year, but it has the makings of a great game,” he said.
“It's just a pity that it was such a great game last year and we're only going to get 400-500 people in to view it, but the We Are Derry streaming means people who can't get to it can still watch it.
“I don't think the smaller crowd will effect the players too much, though. When you play on a big day like that, you don't really hear the crowd anyway.
“I would say it will be different for the lucky 400 or 500 who are sitting in Celtic Park, but that's just the way things are this year.”