Q: How would you characterise Glen’s season to date?
A: To win Derry, to win Ulster and then to lose an All-Ireland final last season, it’s a long road back to try and retain the county title. So, I’m very pleased. Some of the performances, we have mixed the good with the bad. You are always hoping to be playing a bit better but so far where we have ended up is good.
Q: Is it fair to say you’re not scoring enough?
A: It probably is. We have been creating chances. The last couple of games [against Cargin and Naomh Conaill], we have had chances, we have got inside. It’s probably more a case of execution, than decision-making than anything else.
It would be worse if you weren’t creating the chances or if it was some bigger problem, but I feel it could be our execution and we would be hoping to put that right.
It’s one thing Ryan [Porter] does a lot of - shooting in training and the boys are fairly accurate.
The opposition has a lot to do with that as well.
Q: How does last year’s controversial All-Ireland final defeat to Kilmacud sit with you now?
A: To be honest, the club was very united. Right from the word go, the club committee said: ‘Listen, it will be the players and management and we will take the lead from youse.’
And it was very much the case of what was the right thing to do. I suppose we always said that if Croke Park stepped in and said there had to be a replay, then we would have taken that.
Once it dragged on and there wasn’t going to be a satisfactory conclusion, I don’t think any of us felt it was going to serve us well. So, the best thing to do was to park it and that’s what we did.
Q: But you seemed to park it immediately after the game…
A: I suppose I did. My default position after a game is that if you are beaten on the field, you leave it there. I wasn’t aware exactly what had happened. I knew they had an extra man on the field but didn’t realise where he was positioned.
I didn’t know exactly what the position was but at the end of the day that’s gone.
Q: Have you thought much about the game itself with Kilmacud?
A: It’s a long time ago and we feel there is no point in looking back. We held up our hands and we probably didn’t play well enough to win the game. It wasn’t an effort issue. Kilmacud probably deserved it and good luck to them.
Q: What are the factors you consider before deciding to stay or leave a team?
A: Glen are a great club and there are a lot of really good people in it. They are invested in this club. We felt we were still making improvements.
There’s a lot of lads there that achieved a lot in a short period of time, but we felt there was a lot more there. The boys were showing they had the ambition and hunger to keep going. And once that was there, we felt we wanted to be part of it and kept going.
Q: Were you offered the Derry job? And is inter-county management over for you?
A: No. I wouldn’t say that [regarding inter-county management]. Look, there was an approach made [by Derry]. But to be honest, I didn’t think the time was right. I was in the middle of the season, the boys were training very hard and were focussed and Derry is a very hard championship to retain.
I just wanted to keep the full focus on the club and try to retain our county title and we were lucky enough to do that.
Q: Was it a torturous decision to make?
A: I always say I am very privileged that people might come and ask me to look at some of these jobs.
It’s a lovely position to be in, in many ways. And you take it on its merits and see if it fits at the right time. At this stage, we felt we wanted to continue with Glen. So, it didn’t torture me. It was clear cut.
Q: You managed a few of the Scotstown boys during your managerial days with Monaghan? Does that help your preparation or not?
A: It’s a wee bit of everything. After spending seven years with them, I would know their strengths and weaknesses. Does it really make a difference? When the boys go out on the field, the game takes on a life of its own and it doesn’t really matter.
Q: You look at Darren and Kieran Hughes, they’re freaks of nature. What were they like to managed?
A: They were great fellas and different characters in some ways. Kieran, by his own admission, would be more of a free spirit than Darren. Unfortunately for Kieran, he’s been held back to some degree with a lot of wee injuries, niggly injuries. When Kieran is injury-free, he’s a really talented player.
And Darren has built up such a reservoir of fitness over the years he really had a real appetite for training and working and getting himself in great shape and that has stood to him and that stands to him now at 36 or 37, he’s still going strong.
He’s enjoying his football, that was always the thing about Darren, he enjoyed training and football, and he still is and he is still a massive force there at county level and club level. I suppose when you have soldiered with boys for that long you don’t just forget about it overnight.
Q: You look at Rory Beggan and he’s just a phenomenal goalkeeper.
A: It is a sign of where the game has moved on to. It is only recently where the goalkeeper is coming out and creating the extra man and that makes a big difference.
Rory has a great skillset. Obviously, his kicking off the tee is very good but he’s also a very good kicker out of his hands, and he can pick a pass out. He can also score off the ground and out of his hands, so he is a big threat. And when he comes out, he is comfortable coming out in that area and you have to be wary of it.
Q: Have you been impressed with Scotstown and the way they came back from dead against Kilcoo?
A: I said it about Naomh Conaill the last day we played them, but Scotstown have won eight of the last 10 Monaghan championships, so that’s eight Ulster campaigns and maybe they have more than that.
So, they are playing Ulster Club nearly every single year. This is only Glen’s third time in it.
They didn’t panic and were able to get out of those tight situations, whereas a team with less experience would panic.
Q: Are energy levels a concern given your schedule and having the Derry lads? How do you manage that?
A: It is, obviously. I suppose some of the lads there have been on the county panel continuously. They really haven’t had a break… The first year we were beaten in the Ulster semi-final in December.
Last year we went into January and this year we are back in December again. And the county training starts up around that time or before it.
Now, we can only handle it from our end. When the intercounty season ends, we always try to give them a good break and make sure they want to come back, that we are not forcing them back.
They have that wee bit of a break and [feel] regenerated. That’s really important because fitness without freshness is no good and it comes down to as much mental freshness as physical freshness.
The boys are a credit to themselves in the way they look after themselves and Ryan Porter has a big part to play in that. The way Ryan trains the team, he doesn’t do stupid training; he is always doing what is best for the players and has an ability to get them to peak at the right time.
Q: By any chance, is there a Glen players’ charter?
A: I tried it, but the boys ripped it up and burned it!
Q: More seriously, though, you have one of the most active panel of players in the country…
A: We would always try to give all the club lads the first two weeks in July off, to have holidays or whatever else they want. We do realise that everyone has a life and I think you’ll get more out of fellas if you give them that bit of leeway.
Anything we ask them, they’ll do it. They don’t need to prove their commitment to us.
If, at times, we feel there’s something on that’s important to them or important to their families - there’s never a problem. We try and make sure, if fellas need a break, they get it. That’s the way we operate it.
We find the boys want that level of commitment. They want high standards, they are ambitious and, if the standards weren’t high, it would be them saying to us to tighten up.
Q: Can you sum up your relationship with Ryan Porter? Is there a clear division of labour or have the lines become blurred over time?
A: The two of us know each other for a long time. The beauty about it is we travel together in the car. Ryan is a brilliant coach on the field, so I try as much as possible to stay away from that because there’s no point as he’s really good at it.
It’s just a case of discussing everything and what happens out on the field he puts into practice. The rest of us are very much involved, the football side of things, the coaching side of things and I suppose doing what we think is right at any given time.
We work well. It’s sort of seamless. We don’t have to say to each other what’s required at this stage; we have that understanding and we work well together and when you have someone as good as Ryan, you just let him at it and stand back. We were together in Monaghan for seven years and this is our third year, so that’s 10 years now.
Q: A bit like the Odd Couple?
A: You could describe it as many things!