AIB Ulster Club SFC Final
Glen 0-13 Scotstown 0-11
By Paul Keane at BOX-IT Athletic Grounds
An AIB Ulster club SFC campaign that simmered and bubbled for Glen suddenly came surging to the boil as the Derry men delivered their best performance yet to secure back to back provincial titles.
Led, typically, by the excellent Conor Glass and inspired by Man of the Match Eunan Mulholland, who struck three important points from play, last season's All-Ireland runners-up got better and better as a terrific Ulster final played out.
They trailed by two points at half-time but had been playing into the stiff wind and driving rain initially and took full advantage of the elements after the restart, outscoring Scotstown by 0-8 to 0-4 in the second-half.
Four points in a row from Glen in the third quarter of the game put Glen in the lead for the very first-time.
And another four points in a row between the 51st and 61st minutes ultimately won the game for a club that has now prevailed in nine out of the 10 provincial championship games they’ve ever played.
Their reward for this huge win in front of 6,047 is an All-Ireland semi-final clash with holders Kilmacud Crokes on the weekend of January 6/7.
That will be a repeat of last January’s Croke Park final which Crokes narrowly won, meaning next month’s rematch should be a corker.
But it’s despair for four-time Ulster champions Scotstown who were inspired at various times throughout this game by the likes of Rory Beggan, the Hughes brothers, Jack McCarron and Conor McCarthy.
David McCague's side didn’t lose any face in defeat and battled right to the end with Kieran Hughes forcing Glen goalkeeper Connlan Bradley to palm a 64th minute shot over the bar when a goal would have dramatically levelled the game.
Heavy rain began to fall during the warmup and while it lessened at times it never actually let up throughout the 60 or so minutes.
The pitch held up well but it still amounted to desperately difficult conditions for both sets of players who, in the circumstances, served up a high quality game.
Scotstown operated with the wind initially and hit the interval with a two-point 0-7 to 0-5 advantage that they just about deserved.
It was an absorbing encounter, tight and tense and loaded with tactical tweaks.
Scotstown were at it from the off, deploying Monaghan midfielder Darren Hughes in the full-forward line, presumably to the surprise of Glen.
Hughes spent the half flitting between the two positions and pulled it off well, scoring one great point after showing well for the ball and he set up James Hamill for another.
Hamill was a late addition to the official team-sheet and struck two tidy scores but the point of the opening half came from Kieran Hughes, moments before the interval.
The big forward knew exactly what he was doing when he toe-tapped his way out to the right sideline, dragging his man with him, before suddenly cutting back onto his left foot, attacking the space he’d just created and thundering over a huge left-footed score.
It wasn’t all Scotstown though, far from it. In fact, Glen, who looked to be in third gear at times against the Antrim and Donegal champions in previous rounds, will feel they should have hit the interval with the lead themselves as they carved out a great goal chance in the 19th minute.
Beggan eventually saved on the line following Mulholland’s flicked effort after a flowing move up the pitch. Beggan was a relieved man as the Glen move had started with a kick-out following a Beggan point attempt that flew well wide.
Mulholland wore number five for Glen but was a constant threat going forward and sniped two first-half points, aside from almost scoring that goal.
Former All-Star Glass kicked an early Glen point from a free and set up another for Danny Tallon. Glass went off briefly following a bang to the head. Current All-Star McCarthy was influential for Scotstown also, setting up their opening point.
Glen took control of the game in the third quarter with a series of points from Tallon, Mulholland again, full-back Ryan Dougan – whose primary task was to mark Monaghan star McCarron – and Young Player of the Year Ethan Doherty.
Mullholland and Dougan both floated over long scores, taking full advantage of the wind. Scotstown struggled more while playing into it than Glen had in the first-half.
Darren Hughes and captain Damien McArdle, for example, both had point attempts that were sucked well wide by the breeze.
Those four Glen points in a row between the 32nd and 43rd minutes left them ahead for the first time in the game, 0-9 to 0-8, but they were level twice more at 0-9 and 0-10 apiece.
Scotstown lost provincial finals in 2015 and 2018 following extra-time and it looked as if an additional 20 minutes might be required again.
Glen refused to let victory slip through their fingers though and four more points on the trot from Tiarnan Flanagan, Glass, McFaul and Jody McDermott earned them a memorable win.
Scorers for Glen: Danny Tallon 0-3 (0-2f), Eunan Mulholland 0-3, Conor Glass 0-2 (0-1f), Ryan Dougan 0-1, Ethan Doherty 0-1, Tiarnan Flanagan 0-1, Ciaran McFaul 0-1, Jody McDermott 0-1
Scorers for Scotstown: Shane Carey 0-3 (0-3f), James Hamill 0-2, Kieran Hughes 0-2, Jack McCarron 0-1, Conor McCarthy 0-1, Darren Hughes 0-1, Rory Beggan 0-1.
Glen: Connlan Bradley; Michael Warnock, Ryan Dougan, Connor Carville; Ethan Doherty, Ciaran McFaul, Cathal Mulholland; Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley; Eunan Mulholland, Jack Doherty, Jody McDermott; Tiarnan Flanagan, Danny Tallon, Jack Doherty.
Subs: Alex Doherty for Glass 10–13 blood, Alex Doherty for Jack Doherty 55, Stevie O’Hara for McDermott 62.
Scotstown: Rory Beggan; Brendan Boylan, Ryan O’Toole, Damien McArdle; Conor McCarthy, Donal Morgan, Emmett Caulfield; Darren Hughes, Michael McCarville; Jason Carey, Shane Carey, James Hamill; Mattie Maguire, Kieran Hughes, Jack McCarron.
Subs: Darragh Murray for Maguire 43, Mark McPhillips for Hamill 53, Ryan Malley for Boylan 58, Francis Maguire for Jason Carey 62.
Referee: Paul Faloon (Down).