Football

"Kilmacud were the better team last year..." Leinster champions await as Glen retain their Ulster crown

Malachy O'Rourke has guided Glen to three in-a-row in Derry and back-to-back Ulster titles. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Malachy O'Rourke has guided Glen to three in-a-row in Derry and back-to-back Ulster titles. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin Malachy O'Rourke has guided Glen to three in-a-row in Derry and back-to-back Ulster titles. Picture: Margaret McLaughlin

KILMACUD Crokes is the new mission for Glen who added back-to-back Ulster titles to their three in-a-row in Derry with a deserved win after an intense arm-wrestle with Monaghan’s Scotstown.

Two points down after playing into the teeth of a first half gale, Malachy O’Rourke’s success-hungry outfit showed their renowned battling qualities, experience and class in the second half to win by three and set up a semi-final repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final.

Controversy reigned when the Dublin and Leinster champions finished with 16 men on the field last year but O’Rourke says the better team won.

“Our boys don’t rest on their laurels,” he said.

“They’re very keen to push on and we’ve got ourselves into an All-Ireland semi-final. We played Kilmacud last year and, in fairness, they were the better team on the day. We looked at it after and I feel that they shaded it marginally on the day. We wouldn’t have been happy with how the game finished – that’s what our complaints were about - but Kilmacud were the better team.

“We’re going to have to be much better if we’re going to beat them, we have to improve and we’re looking forward to that.”

Read more: 

Ciaran McFaul: Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Glen edge out Scotstown

How the Scotstown players rated: Hughes brothers, Beggan, McCarthy heroic in Ulster final loss

How the Glen players fared: Mulholland leads the way again as Glen's big-game players show up

O’Rourke said he expected Scotstown to be “really up for the game” and of course they were. The An Bhoth side threw everything they had at the reigning champions but a two-point cushion (0-7 to 0-5) at the break wasn’t enough and Glen’s quality came through in the final quarter as they pulled away to win.  

“In the first half, against the elements, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked but we settled into it well in the second half,” said O’Rourke.

“Our whole defensive structure was better, we started to get a few scores and we’re just delighted to get over the line. We have a lot of quality players – lads who play for the county and a lot of other players who have come through the coaching system in the club. Sometimes winter football doesn’t lend itself to good, skilful football but I thought the pitch was still firm today and in the second half we limited their opportunities better and when we got the ball in our hands we used it well.

“We had eight different scorers and that was a big thing for us and I’m so delighted for the boys because they’ve put so much effort in and winning two Ulster titles in-a-row takes some doing. Fair play to them.”

Scotstown had many heroic performers in an intense final, Rory Beggan and the Hughes brothers Kieran and Darren among them. However, their finishing deteriorated in the final quarter and Glen found an extra gear to retain their title.  

“It was a game of fine margins,” said David McCague.

“In the last two games we were lucky to come out on the right side of the results and today we were a wee bit unlucky. In saying that, you have to give great credit to Glen and the champions they are. They found a bit extra in the last 15-20 minutes to get themselves over the line and we congratulate them as the best team in Ulster.”

Three points down with time almost up, Glen needed goalkeeper Connlan Bradley to produce a solid save to keep out a Kieran Hughes injury-time piledriver.

“Two foot left or right and it could have been a different outcome,” said McCague.

“But I’m an immensely proud Scotstown man every day I get up in the morning. Whether it’s U6s or the senior team playing, to watch our people represent our community and our families with great pride and follow the amazing legacy our club has means a lot.”