Conor Glass hoping to follow in footsteps of Dublin star Fenton
IF you’re willing to learn, then learn from the best – and that’s exactly what Conor Glass has been doing after meticulously studying Dublin’s five-time Allstar midfielder Brian Fenton since coming home from Australia last year.
The towering Maghera man made a big impact during his first full senior campaign in county colours as Rory Gallagher’s Derry gained promotion from Division Three, before pushing Donegal all the way in an engrossing Ulster Championship derby clash.
However, his decision to leave behind an AFL career with Hawthorn was fully vindicated earlier this month when he helped Watty Graham’s, Glen lift the John McLaughlin Cup for the first time, sending them through to an Ulster preliminary round showdown with Donegal champions St Eunan’s, Letterkenny on Sunday.
And the 24-year-old admits that - on Gallagher’s advice - he looked to two-time Footballer of the Year Fenton for inspiration as he adapted to Gaelic football after five years Down Under.
“I’ve literally watched that much footage of Brian Fenton over the years,” said Glass, speaking at AIB’s club championship launch yesterday.
“Rory Gallagher was actually the one who told me to watch out for him, watch his vision, watch his games, and that’s literally what I did – just model my game on him, and whatever he does well, try and implement it in my game.
“He gets a lot of turnovers but he hits the scoreboard a lot as well. He has that fitness base of getting up and down the pitch. He is obviously a very versatile player. I have similar physical attributes to him, the more times I can get up and down the pitch, whether it is to create turnovers or get on the scoreboard, I will do.
“It has obviously worked for him in the past and he has been footballer of the year on multiple occasions, so he is obviously doing very well.
“Hopefully in the next couple of years I will be playing against him at some stage.”
For now, though, Glass’s full focus is on Letterkenny and carrying on the form that blew away Slaughtneil in that Derry decider less than a fortnight ago.
With a side backboned by all-conquering minor sides during the past decade, Glen finally fulfilled their potential at senior level, burying the painful memories of the 2019 final defeat to Magherafelt when Glass could only watch from the bench due to contractual obligations with Hawthorn.
“It’s a complete relief. I burst into tears after the game. It was just an amazing feeling. One of my goals coming home was to win a county title with Glen and to do it in my first year was something pretty special.
“Having your friends and family around you to celebrate was one of the main reason why I came home.”
Since booking Sunday’s date with St Eunan’s, Glen have been installed among the bookies’ favourites to not only win Ulster, but go all the way to the All-Ireland club crown.
For Glass and his team-mates, though, dealing with expectation is nothing new.
“At the end of last week it probably sunk in a bit more, but we don’t really have time to dwell on it, to be honest.
“It’s obviously good that people recognise that we put in a good performance and that we have a very strong team, but we’ve had that expectation throughout this year and we’ve performed. All we can do now is focus on each game as it comes and focus purely on Letterkenny.”