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Glen must step up a level to reach Ulster Club decider, warns skipper Conor Carville


Danny Tallon will aim to play an influential role for Glen

Danny Tallon will aim to play an influential role for Glen

©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Danny Tallon will aim to play an influential role for Glen

When Glen embarked on their Derry Senior Football Championship bid a matter of weeks ago, they never thought that they were on the cusp of taking a giant stride into the history books.

But the ecstasy sparked by their first senior title in 73 years was to prove a milestone in the annals of the club.

And given that nothing succeeds like success, Glen are now just 60-plus minutes away from a place in the Ulster Club Championship Final — something they can achieve by overcoming Kilcoo in today’s Semi-Final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (4pm).

Nine Down titles in the last 10 years have long since rendered Kilcoo as old hands in terms of provincial activity yet they have only one Ulster title to show for their protracted endeavours.

In fact, they are the current holders of the provincial trophy having won it in 2019 with last year’s competition having been ruled out because of the Covid-19 threat.

There is more than a touch of irony in the fact that Glen can actually match Kilcoo’s credentials in this connection if they were to beat them this afternoon and then go on to triumph in the decider.

But it’s very much one step at a time for Glen and their thoroughly grounded skipper Conor Carville.

“Obviously we are delighted to be in this Ulster Semi-Final and the fact that we have already two wins under our belts in the competition gives us encouragement but we know for sure that we are stepping up a level,” insists Carville. “Kilcoo are vastly experienced, they have a very strong panel and they have retained a great hunger for success. This is undoubtedly a mammoth task for us.”

Carville’s robust leadership is one of the reasons why Glen have progressed thus far and another is the team’s work rate and consistency.

Emmett Bradley, Ciaran McFaul, Conor Glass, Danny Tallon, Ethan Doherty and Jack Doherty help to provide the muscle, firepower and energy that Glen will require in abundance against a Kilcoo side that just keeps on coming back at this elevated level.

Their experienced corps — Ryan and Jerome Johnston, the five Branagan brothers Niall, Aaron, Ryan, Eugene and Aidan along with Paul Devlin, Ceilum Doherty and skipper Conor Laverty — have long since joined the household names fraternity.

Kilcoo’s teamwork, cohesion and obsessive desire to win have proved key elements over the course of the past decade and have certainly not been lost on Glen manager Malachy O’Rourke.

“Kilcoo know how to manage games and how to come out on top,” insists O’Rourke. “There is a tremendous spirit within their camp with everyone doing their bit. They will have prepared well for us and will have their guard up, that’s for sure.”

The Kilcoo management team of Mickey Moran and Conleth Gilligan have amassed a wealth of touchline experience but former Derry star Gilligan acknowledges that Glen will be “an extremely tough proposition” for the long-time Down champions.

“Glen have made great progress both in winning the Derry title and advancing to this stage of the Ulster series. This will have fuelled their confidence. We had injury problems earlier in the season but we have got people back now and we will certainly be giving this Semi-Final out best shot,” states Gilligan.

“Glen will be an extremely tough proposition for us no matter what way you look at it. We will certainly need to hit the ground running and maintain our concentration from there until the final whistle.”

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