When Conor Glass returned from over four years involvement in the hurly-burly of Australian Rules Football to his native Maghera two years ago, his re-acquaintance with gaelic football quickly convinced him of one thing.
He may have only been Down Under for a comparatively short spell but his restoration to the Oak Leaf fold was accompanied by a reminder that numbers on jerseys no longer provide confirmation that a player fulfils a particular role.
Instead, versatility is the name of the game particularly in the hugely competitive inter-county sector where players can quite often find themselves undertaking responsibilities that no longer bear any relation to the number on their back.
But Glass is more than happy to confirm that the No 8 shirt he wears is merely an item of clothing rather than a definitive indicator of his involvement with the team.
And when he takes the field on Sunday against Donegal in the Ulster final at St Tiernach's Park, Clones it can be safely assumed that the multi-talented Glass will be punishing himself on several fronts.
“If you are playing at midfield in the modern game, you are expected to gain some sort of control there and you must also shoulder responsibility for helping to prop up your defence and support your attack,” points out Glass.
“That’s the way it is and I’m happy to go along with it. We know that there is still a considerable emphasis on midfield play and that’s why I am braced for a hard shift on Sunday. But it’s brilliant to be going in there because an Ulster title is the ultimate goal from our perspective as things stand.”
It’s certainly all happening for Glass now yet hardly had he set foot on his native soil after returning from Down Under than he found himself immersed in the Glen club’s successful bid to win their first-ever Derry senior football championship as well as playing a key role in taking the Oak Leaf county into Division Two of the Allianz Football League.
And it was this dual brush with success that convinced Glass his decision to return home had been the right one.
“I have to say that winning the county title in particular was an amazing feeling. This is something that I had yearned for and to achieve so soon after coming home made it all the more worthwhile. Having your friends and family around you to celebrate was one of the main reasons why I came home and it was a relief at the end of the day,” he reveals.
For Glass, Sunday’s showdown against Donegal is another big challenge in a career which has had its share of twists and turns but which has now thrust him to prominence on the national stage in this country.
“Donegal have shown in their championship wins to date over Armagh and Cavan that they are strong at midfield where people like Jason McGee and Hugh McFadden have been doing well for them. The pressure will be on us to try and get a strong foothold there,” states Glass.
Yet he still clings to the belief that his team’s wins over Tyrone and Monaghan were “ideal preparation” for Sunday’s daunting task.
Glass deployed his experience and physical power to good effect in the second-half against Monaghan in particular and he is ready to dig deep on Sunday as his team set their sights on ending a depressing twenty-four yearlong Ulster title famine.
“Our manager Rory Gallagher obviously draws up a game plan and it’s up to us as players to execute this. To my mind, there has been no better way to have prepared for an Ulster final than to have recorded wins over two strong teams like Tyrone and Monaghan,” points out Glass.
“This, of course, guarantees us nothing in the context of today’s game but it does mean to my mind that we have benefitted from what I feel was ideal preparation for Sunday’s tie. We are both physically and mentally prepared for what will be a massive assignment no matter what way you look at it.”
"Derry people love their football but they have had little to celebrate over the course of recent years and we would just love to provide a cause for jubilations. We could hardly been going in against tougher opponents but we will give it everything on the day, that’s for sure.”