Glenswilly devastated after giving it their all, admits Gary McDaid
Glenswilly manager Gary McDaid won't thank you for saying so, but Glenswilly are in a vastly different place today than they were a year ago.
On December 2, 2012, they trooped out of St Eunan's ground having been beaten by 10 points in a relegation play-off by Gaoth Dobhair. Some went across the road to a bar and consoled themselves. Up on the television on the wall was the Ulster club final on television, and they thought, 'if only...'
Having won division two this campaign, it set them up for their second Championship in three years. The one constant between 2011 and 2013, that wasn't there in 2012, was the presence of Gary McDaid as manager.
He was philosophical in the tunnel of Healy Park afterwards when he reflected on the context of their journey, but added, "We showed spirit in the second-half. We didn't want a moral victory and the slaps on the back. We wanted this title – really badly – and that showed today."
He continued, "We're devastated. We left it on the field and those in the green, white and gold jerseys there gave it everything there for the Glen. Ballinderry are just a class act. We competed well there – right up to the 50th minute. But that last 10 minutes just showed their experience and showed their ability.
"We were happy up until then. We were happy with the start that we made because Ballinderry have blitzed a lot of teams in the first 10 or 15 minutes in their championship campaign to date.
It's something we focused on in training there – not letting them get off to a good start. We didn't want them to get that lead on us."
However, holding Ballinderry down was a tough proposition when they were pinging points from outside the defensive zone and bringing on superstars.
"Ballinderry have quality players and as I said in the lead-up to this game it wasn't about marking one or two players – if that happens someone else can just pop up," repeated McDaid.
"In the first-half, they got scores that we wouldn't have been happy with. We didn't press hard enough and dropped off.
"But we addressed that at half-time and even in the first-half, we were giving them plenty of bother and were creating scoring chances. We hit the post twice and had at least two more than were scoreable. That was four points we should've had and they were much more clinical."
Lying deep in the first-half probably robbed Glenswilly of traction in their attack and it was notable that when sweeper Caolan Kelly did push forward he provided a cutting edge, notching 1-1.
The lack of penetration, and the marking job performed on Michael Murphy was acknowledged by McDaid when he said, "We got eight scores and that's probably not enough to win an Ulster final.
"Maybe a lot of that was due to Ballinderry's abilities as defenders. Gareth McKinless is as good as a defender as I have seen all year. Ballinderry are the best team we have ever played against. St Gall's were, but Ballinderry are away out in front.
He added: "We knew we had a lot of containing to do. Their strength in depth really told and they had men coming off the bench kicking quality scores. Hats off to them. They can go a long way."