Relief for O'Rourke as Glen seal All-Ireland final spot
AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final: Watty Graham’s, Glen (Derry) 1-11 Moycullen (Galway) 0-12
FROM the scenes of madcap celebration that greeted a maiden Ulster title, it was sheer relief that swept from the stands as Glen held off a late Moycullen charge to seal an All-Ireland final showdown with Kilmacud Croke’s.
Despite largely being the better team throughout - and having led by five when Tiarnan Flanagan netted just after half-time - the Derry champions just couldn’t shake off the Connacht kingpins and, two up in the fifth minute of added time, they found themselves facing a free metres from goal as Moycullen eyed up an unlikely last-gasp victory.
It was Jack Doherty who dived at the feet of Galway midfielder Peter Cooke, after receiving the short free from Dessie Conneely, to send the ball out of harm’s way and Glen into a January 22 decider with last year’s beaten finalists.
For boss Malachy O’Rourke, a month after being crowned kings of Ulster, yesterday was another defining day in their remarkable ascent.
But after such a frenetic finish, the former Monaghan manager was just happy to have another big day to look forward to.
“It’s relief as much as anything,” he said.
“We were in a great position [after the goal] and, maybe through our own fault a lot, we made a couple of mistakes and let them back into it.
“Every time we got a wee bit of daylight, we let them come back down and get a score at the other end. I did think maybe they were getting frees easier than us, but I’m delighted with the character of the boys.
“We went to the very end and I think we deserved to win. It’s a great day for everyone involved, and we’re looking forward now to another big day out.
“To be one of the last two clubs standing in Ireland, it’s a massive thing.”
Kilmacud might have loved another crack at Kilcoo but, after being stung by that late Jerome Johnston sucker-punch 11 months ago, the Dublin champions aren’t lacking in motivation after seeing off Kerry’s Kerins O’Rahilly’s.
O’Rourke knows this Glen side pack something special too though, the fruits of the past few years the long-awaited fulfillment of their incredible potential – and the hunger to add to their haul growing by the day.
“When a club wins a county title for the first time in their history, it is very easy for fellas to dine out on that for a while and for fellas to take it easy next year and say, ‘we might get back another year’. But right from the start this year, the boys showed hunger.
“Other lads that mightn’t have played as much last year, the likes of Cathal Mulholland, who scored a brilliant point in the second half. Cathal missed most of last year with an injury, he did an awful lot of work to get himself back and be ready to play this year. There were other boys like that as well.
“I knew the boys were really hungry, but Derry is a very tough county to get through. We couldn’t look ahead at all. It was just navigating that. Once we did, we then set our sights on Ulster and we’re just delighted to be here.”
“It has happened so fast, now it’s our job to get everybody settled back down. We know Kilmacud are a really top class team, so we know we’re going to need a massive performance in the final.”
Moycullen manager Don Connellan chose not to face the media after yesterday’s semi-final.