Football

Connor Carville still striving for more with Watty Graham's

Connor Carville said he didn't dwell on last year's controversial All-Ireland final defeat
Connor Carville said he didn't dwell on last year's controversial All-Ireland final defeat Connor Carville said he didn't dwell on last year's controversial All-Ireland final defeat

IT was the assembled members of the media in Garvaghey who wanted to talk about last season’s controversial All-Ireland final defeat to Kilmacud Crokes.

Out of politeness, Glen captain Connor Carville indulged a few questions – but you sensed if he had his way he would never talk about the dying embers of that final where the eventual champions had 16 players on the field of play as Watty Graham’s lay siege to the Dubliners’ goal in search of that elusive major.

For several weeks, the print and broadcast media and social media were ablaze with talk of a possible replay that never materialised.

Kilmacud were officially crowned All-Ireland champions 18 days later.

For Carville, he’d moved on as soon as the final whistle sounded at Croke Park. Everything that followed was noise.

“I’m not lying when I say we just parked it straight away,” said Carville, who leads Glen into their second consecutive Ulster final on Sunday where the Derrymen face Scotstown.

“I just wanted to move on from it. It’s probably the first time in my life that I made a conscious decision to get off social media and get away from newspapers and things.

“If we had been dwelling on what happened last year, I don’t think we’d have gone on and won the championship again [for a third time in a row] because you’d be stuck in the past. You need to keep driving forward and be looking to the future. That’s what we were able to do.”

Carville, a self-confessed sports nut, deleted his social media from his phone and immersed himself in places where Gaelic Games didn’t exist.

“I went on to somewhere like The Athletic that isn’t reporting on Gaelic Games! Maybe read about the NFL or soccer. I felt like I had to get out of it a wee bit.”

And did it help erase the memory of losing an All-Ireland final?

“It did,” he said. “I’m into all sorts of sports, I’m looking forward to the darts starting up in a few weeks and I’m listening to Siya Kolisi [captain of the South African rugby team].

“His story is remarkable. He came out of poverty, the slums, his autobiography is unreal. I wouldn’t be the biggest rugby fan, but he is really piquing my interest at the minute and taking on a lot of things out of that in terms of his leadership.”

Since U14, Carville has been captain of every team he’s played on. Among the Glen seniors, there are higher-profile players than the unassuming defender – but boss Malachy O’Rourke opted for Carville to lead the south Derry men to unprecedented success over the last three seasons.

He captained Glen U14s, led St Pat’s Maghera at Dalton, MacRory and Hogan Cups level – winning at each juncture of his fledgling career – and he continues to raise silverware above his head on behalf of his Glen team-mates.

Being captain has become second nature to Carville – but it is a role he doesn’t over-think.

“I just prepare the same way. I don’t really think about it or try to be any different. The only difference is I have to come to nights like this and speak to you guys (laughing); other than that, there’s little difference, just focus on performing at my best and the team performs at their best.”

Glen, though, haven't been performing at their best so far this year. They made hard work of 14-man Cargin and needed a ‘worldie’ from the renowned left boot of Emmett Bradley to see off Donegal champions Glenties in a nail-biting semi-final.

Scotstown needed to pull out all the stops to overcome Kilcoo and Trillick to reach their first provincial final since Gweedore nipped them after extra-time in 2018.

“Scotstown are a serious team,” said Carville. “They have won eight of the last 11 Monaghan championships, been in two recent enough Ulster finals and were beaten in extra time in both of them.

“And then you look at the calibre of the player they have and they’ve added Jack McCarron to their ranks in the last couple of years too.”

For Glen, the plan is to be still playing Gaelic football when the dart season kicks in again.

“Last year a lot of the boys were playing darts,” Carville said.

“The night before the All-Ireland final we brought a dart board down with us to the hotel we were staying in... and I was nearly telling boys we need to get to bed here - we have match tomorrow!

“So, now it’s getting to the darts time of year again and the interest is back up. If you beat Emmet Bradley in a game of darts he wouldn’t speak to you for a couple of days - and I’m probably the same myself!”