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O'Kane hopes for a repeat of '85 win

By John Campbell

Former Derry chairman Gerard O'Kane has good cause to remember the 1985 county football final.

O'Kane, then in the twilight of a busy playing career, was at left-half-back in the Glenullin side that overcame Ballinderry Shamrocks to lift the crown.

And while Gerard and his colleagues celebrated enthusiastically, their successors spanning the past couple of decades have had no opportunity to let their hair down in similar fashion.

A county title has eluded Glenullin for the past twenty-two years yet there is a quiet feeling of optimism that the famine might just be ended this year.

Not that the normally placid Gerard is prepared to shout this from the rooftops, of course.

As club secretary, he is still hugely involved - and keener than ever to see the major trophy brought back to the north Derry club.

"We have had to live in the shadow of other sides in the meantime. But we are very hungry for success and there is considerable optimism that we might do something this time," admits Gerard.

To "do something," as he puts it, Glenullin will have to start by overcoming O'Donovan Rossa, Magherafelt in tomorrow's quarter-final at Swatragh (5.30).

It's a task for which Glenullin are fired up - but wary.

"Like ourselves, Magherafelt have not been in the title frame for well over twenty years so they will be equally keen to win. We have beaten Lavey and Slaughtneil so far and while these results are encouraging, they will certainly not engender the slightest iota of complacency," insists O'Kane.

If Gerard had a key role when Glenullin enjoyed their last helping of glroy, his son Gerard junior will step onto centre stage on Sunday. Now firmly established in the Derry side, this robust defender can join experienced goalkeeper Shane O'Kane in leading the resistance against an O'Donovan Rossa side who will look to Conan O'Brien and Kieran McGlone to establish a platform of victory from midfield.

Glenullin pin their faith in Rory Boylan and Neil Mullan in this sector and should this duo even gain parity of esteem, then the Bradley brothers Paddy and Eoin in particular can be expected to pocket scores.

The Magherafelt side employ the talents of Derry goalkeeper Barry Gillis as an attacking ace while Joe Keenan's experience in the Oak Leaf side can prove a defensive bonus.

In his role as Glenullin secretary, Gerard O'Kane would be very happy to record the ,minutes' of a resounding win.

" But we know that O'Donovan Rossa will be a very difficult side. While it was great to have been involved in that 1985 final, it's all about tomorrow now," he says.

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