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22nd Jan 2024

The five moments that sparked Watty Graham’s Glen’s crazy comeback

Lee Costello

Watty Graham's Glen

What a turnaround.       

Everyone is talking about how Conor Glass grabbed Watty Graham’s Glen by the scruff of the neck and turned them into champions, and for good reason. 

The Derry captain put in the performance of a lifetime, and was truly heroic when all seemed lost for his club. Glen were on the brink of losing their second consecutive All-Ireland club title, but the character, determination and talent that they showed, refused to let that happen. 

There are five key moments that turned the game around when all looked lost for the Ulster champions.

The five moments that sparked Glen’s crazy comeback.

When St Brigid’s midfielder Eddie Nolan slotted over a point to stretch their lead to four points, it felt like the final nail in the coffin. 

That was until this series of events took place:

1. Who says that cornerbacks can’t get the limelight?

Glen were struggling to find scores, particularly at this stage in the game, and it seemed that no matter what they did, the ball just would not go over the bar. 

With a forward line as talented as theirs, you can’t escape the feeling that if they aren’t producing, then it just isn’t going to be their day. 

Up steps Michael Warnock, with number two on his back, but number 14 in his head, as he drives forward, takes on responsibility, and kicks a brilliant score, closing the gap to three. 

Just a kick of a ball in it now. 

2. Breaking the Glass ceiling.

It’s role reversals as Danny Tallon actually does wear the number 14 on his back, but is tackling like a number two, and he turns the ball over, so that the passage of play results in a free kick that is cleverly taken quickly by Conleth McGuckin. 

The pass finds its way to Glass, who drives forward towards goal, and shapes his body to take a shot, but given the distance that he is at everyone thinks he is going for a point, including the St Brigid’s goalkeeper. 

Instead, the man mountain midfielder fires a rocket that ruffles into the top corner of the net from a distance.

If you were in the playground you would be screaming “GERRARD” as you hit it; it was one of those. 

3. If you fail, try again.

Emmett Bradley has just given Glen the lead and now the next play is absolutely crucial in determining what happens from here on out.

Glass leaps above everyone, soaring in the sky with all the effortless elegance of an eagle, before bringing us back to reality and punching the ball with the sort of ferocity that Anthony Joshua would have been proud of. 

The ball breaks its way into the hands of McGuckin – who had missed three shots by this stage – and he continues undeterred, unphased and unstoppable, as he races towards goal before kicking the most important point he might ever score. 

4. Trophy-blocked.

Cathal Mulholland received a black card late in the game and missed the majority of the last 10 minutes of normal time, returning to the fray with the clock ticking past injury time. 

Not one to waste any time, the tenacious defender made sure to put himself in Glen’s history books by performing one of the greatest and most crucial blocks you will ever see against an on-fire Ben O’Carroll, to prevent the Connacht champions from stealing the game away. 

Watty Graham's Glen

5. You have to roll the dice

Injury time is all but up, the Derry side are only one point up, but St Brigid’s are on the attack driving at force through midfield in search of an equalising point. 

At this stage, you have to make a decision, a decision that will have huge ramifications on the outcome of this game, and the outcome of your club’s history. 

Calm in the face of danger, McGuckin made the calculated choice to foul the St Brigid’s player 45 metres out, knowing full well that this would result in a black card for him and a free kick for the opposition. 

Watty Graham's Glen

The Derry star figured that the distance, the ticking clock and the weather conditions would make the kick more difficult to score, than if they had broken through without being fouled, and thus manoeuvred a shot from play. 

A gutsy decision, but one that paid off in the end because with the very last kick of the game, Shane Cunnane – who had just scored the point to make it a one-point game – couldn’t get the accuracy just right, and no sooner did it sail wide of the posts did the referee blow the final whistle. 

A game of inches.

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