GAA Football

'A bit of arrogance has served us well on the road to success' - Glen's Michael Warnock

Michael Warnock of Watty Graham’s Glen GAC, pictured ahead of the AIB GAA All-Ireland Football Senior Club Championship semi-final with Moycullen, which takes place at Croke Park on Sunday Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Brendan Crossan

GLEN defender Michael Warnock insists carrying a “level of arrogance” around for the last number of years has helped them achieve their dream of winning two county titles and an Ulster crown as they aim to reach a first-ever All-Ireland final on Sunday.

Speaking ahead of the south Derry men’s AIB All-Ireland Club semi-final against Galway and Connacht champions Moycullen at Croke Park, Warnock believes cracking the Slaughtneil code over the last two seasons has allowed them to aim higher.

Since making his senior debut against Coleraine in 2010, Warnock always believed days like these could become a reality.

“I suppose any player that wants to compete at this level there is a level of arrogance [needed],” said Warnock, who turns 30 this week.

“But it was maybe hard to see that when we first started playing at senior level.

“Growing up through the underage structures in Glen we tried to emulate the model in Crossmaglen and kicking the ball; we wanted to be seen as great kickers, but that took us quite a few years to adjust at senior level as teams were that bit more defensive.

“[But] We always felt as a group, if we stuck at it, the quality was there and we could win a Derry championship.

“And when you beat Slaughtneil and you know where they have been – in two All-Ireland Clubs – it gives you good confidence going into Ulster. When you beat the likes of Scotstown and St Eunan's Letterkenny in Ulster (2021) and you get beaten after extra-time against Kilcoo, you realise we’re not a million miles away.”

The Maghera men saw off Errigal Ciaran, Cargin and Kilcoo on their way to winning their first provincial title last month and now face Moycullen who are on an uncannily familiar trajectory in Connacht, having also claimed two county championships (2020 and 2022) and a provincial crown.

Warnock, who played county hurling for several years and half a season with the Derry footballers under Damian Barton, puts a lot of Glen's success down to good timing.

Conor Glass’s celebrated return from Aussie Rules was key in Glen’s recent ascension, while the capture of Malachy O’Rourke and Ryan Porter was another crucial element.

“It was a massive plus knowing that Conor was coming back home,” Warnock said.

“I suppose people were trying to predict how long it would take him to adjust to the game again. But having played with Conor briefly before he went to Australia I’d a fair idea it wasn’t going to take him as long as people thought.

“And with Malachy and Ryan coming in was another massive plus for us as a group because they’ve been there and done it, the experience they have, painting a vision for us and how to achieve it. Just having them there gives you confidence and as you begin to work under them you begin to understand why they’ve been so successful.”

O’Rourke would have been touted for several inter-county jobs since guiding Glen to their first county title last year, but Warnock never feared losing the Fermanagh native.

“He’s arguably up there with the best managers in Ireland so we understand counties are going to be looking for him and that comes with the territory. Thankfully, wherever Malachy has gone, he’s stayed for a period of time. The longer he stays with us - the better and we’ll try and make hay while the sun shines while we have him.”

GAA Football