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09th Nov 2021

“Lads, there’s over a billion people in China who don’t give a f*** about Gaelic.”

Lee Costello

“He’s just so professional, and he always knows what to say.”

Put yourself in the position of a Glen footballer last Saturday evening, finishing up the very last session before you embark on the biggest game of your life.

Your club has never won a senior Derry championship, your rivals and neighbours just happen to be Slaughtneil – the most successful team in the county in recent years, and a powerhouse in Ulster.

Throw in the fact that they are the opponents you have to face as the whole town of Maghera shakes with nervous energy, just willing you to please be the first team that gets over that line.

If you weren’t nervous then you’re probably not human, as the whole weight of a club’s history weighs on your back, and the hopes of those who came before you and failed, seek redemption through your performance.

Conor Glass on leaving Australia to play for his club.

Glen midfielder, Conor Glass left a life as a professional athlete in Australia, just to help his club achieve this shared dream.

They came close in 2019, reaching the final, but Glass could only watch from the bench, prohibited to play by his AFL club.

Now, he’s home and he’s achieved what he set out to achieve at the start of the year, by helping the Watty Grahams reach another final, and have another crack at glory.

(Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

“After watching the 2019 final, I just thought that I need to get back here, and I need to be a part of this.

“I grew up with all of these boys, I went to school with them, all of my best mates play in that team and it makes it better.

“It just means so much more on a personal level, to be a part of it.”

Conor Glass on Glen manager Malachy O’Rourke.

Malachy O’Rourke is a man synonymous with success, as the former Monaghan manager has already pulled off miraculous achievements, including leading the Loup – another Derry team – to county and Ulster success back in 2003.

The man is revered wherever he goes, so when Malachy O’Rourke speaks, you listen.

“He’s just so professional, and he always knows what to say,” explains Glass.

“The final training session on the Saturday was very technical, focused on the game plan, and very serious.

“Just as lads were about to head off afterwards he turned and said:

“Lads, there’s over a billion people in China who don’t give a f*** about Gaelic.”

“And he just finished on that, it was kind of saying that at the end of the day it’s just football, and there are bigger things than football, it was just lethal.”

A way with words indeed, but it was the players who had to walk the walk on the Sunday against Glen, and they rose to the occasion, winning comfortably in the end, making a great Slaughtneil team look average.

Conor Glass on the rivalry with Slaughtneil.

“Coming up through underage, u16s and minors, we would have been playing those boys, and we would have had the success at underage level, but they had all the success at senior level.

“They are an unbelievable club, they pushed us and motivated us to get over the line last Sunday.

“They’re such a well-drilled team, but we just had to focus on ourselves, and once we had that lead they had to come out of their shells and not play the way they usually play, and thankfully we took our chances when they arose as well.”

A historic day for Conor Glass and the entire Glen team; they will now look to take this success even further when they venture through to the Ulster Club Championship in a few weeks.

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