Glass says Glen will bring cutting edge in Ulster
By John Harrington
When the final whistle of the Derry County Senior Football Final crowned Watty Graham’s Glen champions over near neighbours Slaughtneil, Conor Glass sunk to his knees and burst into tears.
In that moment, his decision to forsake a career in the AFL with Hawthorn and once again play gaelic football for club and county was more than justified.
“It was pure emotion,” says Glass of his reaction to winning the Derry SFC.
“We had a comfortable lead going into the last five minutes. I was able to take in the occasion and take in the atmosphere but even after the final whistle went, it was just pure emotion and pure relief to finally get over the line. It was a good feeling.”
Two years ago Glass was forced to watch from the sidelines while his club-mates lost the 2019 Derry Final to Magherafelt.
His contract with Hawthorn prevented him from playing, and it must have been hard not to feel he could have made the vital difference in a match Glen lost by a single point.
“The 2019 final when I was sitting on the bench and we actually got beat by a point, played a big part probably in the victory two weeks ago,” says Glass.
“A lot of the same players were obviously playing. They had that motivation of going one step further, so we went in with a steady focus two weeks ago. We didn't make a mistake. I think a couple of days after that it actually sank in that we were county champions.”
Like he has been all year, Glass was outstanding for Glen in the Derry SFC Final.
The sort of player who covers every blade of grass and gives everything of himself, he’s the beating heart of the Derry champions.
He doesn’t just try to lead by example, he makes a point of being a vocal presence in the dressing-room whenever it’s required.
“Absolutely. Even to the younger boys, just kind of guiding them. Especially on big occasions like the county final. A few of those players, maybe it being their first county final might have been a bit nervous.
“So trying to just chill them out a bit and give them a bit of guidance. Not only doing your talking in the changing room, but players perform better when they see others putting a big tackle or putting in a big score.
“Not only doing the talking but actually acting on it on the field is massive.”
Leadership is a quality that Glass believes Glen are blessed with thanks to the fact they have the highly rated Malachy O’Rourke in situ as team manager.
“He's won us the county title, simple as that,” says Glass. “Wherever Malachy goes, success usually follows. He's just good to be around. He talks with all the players, he talks with all the management and he's obviously very good in the community as well. But he's obviously a very technical, tactical manager. He's just an all round manager, which is good to have at our club.
“He's a good right-hand man in Ryan Porter. He does all the physical and all the training side of it. Malachy obviously does the final words and motivational words, so they work well together. Whenever you see Malachy, Ryan's usually close behind or beside him, so they work well together.”
Glen now play Donegal champions St. Eunan’s in the first round of the AIB Ulster Club SFC this Sunday.
Having watched Slaughtneil, who share the same parish with Glen, win three Ulster titles in the recent past, Glass hopes his own club can now have a good cut off the provincial competition.
“100 per cent,” he said. “Seeing Slaughtneil go on to win, whatever it was, two or three Ulsters, it would put fire in your belly too.
“We would have played against them pretty much every year underage. We would have come out on the better side on that occasion. To see them do it at senior level was tough to swallow.
“We're going to focus fully on this weekend, put that win in the county championship behind us, focus on Letterkenny this weekend.”