"Today, we're Kings of Ulster" - Glen dethrone Kilcoo with defiant display
Glen 1-12 Kilcoo 1-6
Glen are kings of Ulster.
"For years, people said Glen had no character, we're underachievers, were mentally weak, had no leaders. But today, we're kings of Ulster." So said captain Connor Carville in his speech and, there and then, it was the signal for the people of Glen, county Derry, finally, to rejoice.
They'd finally done it.
This was a team who'd won every under-age title under the sun, not just in Derry, but in Ulster too. They'd never been able to transfer that dominance to senior level until last year, when they won their first ever Derry senior football championship.
Something special had happened. But more was brewing. They wanted to be kings of Ulster too.
Kilcoo knocked them out last year after a titanic tussle that went all the way to extra-time but Glen came back for more this year and they didn't let the occasion pass them by, on what was a famous Sunday in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh.
The Derry-men started like a train on tracks, stunning with Kilcoo with five unanswered points in a row. The Down men responded like the champions they are, with Aaron Branagan fisting home a brilliant goal and from then right up until the 60th minute, it was hot and it was heavy and there was very little between the teams.
But there was something. Kilcoo hung in there, mainly through the brilliance of the Branagan brothers Aaron and Darryl, but Glen just seemed to be that little notch sharper, that little bit faster to the breaks, that little bit harder in the tackle. And it was that little bit that won it for them.
They were never headed from pillar to post but it was still all to play for still with a minute to go when they only led by a point. As a Glen fan, you'd have been fearing that Kilcoo could come and snatch this but it wasn't going to happen.
Conor Glass' sensational late block on Darryl Branagan capped off an inspired performance from one of the best athletes in the GAA. Conleth McGuckian had number 15 on his back but in all honesty he could have been wearing any number from 1 to 15 that was how much ground he covered. His old fist-pass over the head and into his own path was one of the highlights of the day late on.
But the real highlight for Watty Grahams was the late goal, because that was when they knew.
It was desperation station for Kilcoo at that stage and, from his kick-out, Niall Kane had no option but to lamp it long. He hammered it out in the hope that a Kilcoo man would win it but Ryan Dougan leapt highest, and he punched the ball a good 35 yards back down the field. He was the man that went down in front of that famous Ruairi Canavan dummy a few weeks ago but he was on the right side of history today.
He made sure of that in an act of pure defiance that said, no matter what, this is going to be our day.
One of the best punches gaelic football has ever seen 🤜🏐pic.twitter.com/IvPzLAw9uT
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) December 11, 2022
McGuckian then played a brilliant ball into Alex Doherty and he rounded the goalie. And then Glen were champions.