Glen trio fit as Derry champions prepare for duel with Ulster kings Kilcoo
GLEN manager Malachy O’Rourke expects to have Conor Glass, Conor Convery and Eunan Mulholland fit for Sunday’s Ulster Club Championship final against reigning champions Kilcoo.
All three picked up knocks in the semi-final win over Antrim’s Cargin – Mulholland was withdrawn after just 10 minutes – but O’Rourke is confident the trio will be available to spearhead the Derry champions’ bid to dethrone Down’s ‘Magpies’.
“We’re hoping that they’ll all be good to go,” said O’Rourke.
“They wouldn’t have trained fully since but the games are coming thick and fast and they’re not going to get a pile fitter over this week. I’d be hopeful that we’ll have a full panel to pick from.”
All three featured in last year’s Ulster club semi-final against Kilcoo which was a who-blinks-first, possession-based ‘chess match’ of a game that went to extra-time.
Glen, in their first-ever Ulster senior campaign, looked to be getting the upperhand when an unfortunate error from them opened the door for Kilcoo who went on to win the Ulster and All-Ireland titles.
Meeting the Magpies again is not a surprise, said O’Rourke.
“I always felt that if we were able to get this far again we could be meeting Kilcoo because they have been so consistent and so prominent over a number of years,” he said.
“They’ve been winning Down championships year after year, this is their third Ulster final and they’ve been in the last two All-Ireland finals…
“So there was a good chance that if we were able to get back (into Ulster) we’d be playing them. Last year the semi-final was a tight game so there is that added spice to it but in many ways we’d rather be playing someone else because it wouldn’t be as tough a battle!
“After winning the Derry title last year, the first thing I thought about this year so trying to retain it and that was hard to do. After that you take it game by game and the two games we’ve had have been really tough, we’ve been pushed to the pin of our collars.”
Since last year’s meeting, Mickey Moran has stepped down as Kilcoo manager but standards have not slipped at the Down club. Conleith Gilligan and Richie Thornton stepped up and have steered Kilcoo to the brink of a provincial three in-a-row.
“Conleith and Richie have done a brilliant job coming in – it’s been very seamless and they’ve won another Down title and been impressive in Ulster so far,” said O’Rourke.
“Whatever research we did on them last year wasn’t good enough to get us over the line so we have to add a wee bit and see if it can get a difference this time.”
While Kilcoo won their semi-final by 11 points, Glen were pushed all the way by Antrim champions Cargin. O’Rourke concedes that much better will be required from his players on Sunday.
“We took some positives out of it (the semi-final) but at the same time we know we need a massive improvement,” he said.
“We are hoping that we can lift it because we need to lift it. They have come close to losing their crown in Down on a number of occasions but they seem to be liberated when they come in to Ulster and they have been really impressive. We are well warned about their dangers and now it’s a matter of seeing if we can cope with them.
“They have dangers all over the field, that’s the thing about them. They’re not depending on one or two forwards – they have a lot of threats around the field, there’s a lot of fires to try and put out so they’re different to a lot of teams in that respect.
“It’s about getting a team performance, we have to be really on it from the start and be really solid defensively and then, when we’re on the ball, show that bit of quality.”