Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Hurt of last year can spur Glen to victory

I’D like to start the wishing you all a very happy and prosperous New Year. I hope that all your and your team’s wishes and goals for 2024 come true.

We are currently all at that point where we are making mad New Year’s resolutions and getting stuck into new fitness regimes as we try to shake off the festive season.

This time of year can be dark and gloomy for a lot of people but, thankfully, this week we will see the return of our Gaelic games, which is a massive boost for everyone at this time of the year.

At the time of writing, myself and my son Fionn were planning to head to MacCumhaill Park for Donegal‘s first competitive game of the season against Armagh.

When both counties released their teams, it was clear to see from the Donegal selection that they mean business from the off this season with most of the first-team regulars on the pitch.

Jim McGuinness isn’t the sort of manager who likes to ease his way into things. He wants to be at their best from the very first session of the season.

He firmly believes that all of his top players, where possible, should be playing every match.

Armagh, on the other hand, named a very youthful side and given how long Kieran McGeeney has been in the job it’s understandable how different the two approaches are this early in the season.

Donegal fans are excited and after this opening game I have a feeling that that excitement may grow a little.

At the weekend, the club action swings around and there is no doubt that the biggest show in town is in Newry.

The reigning All-Ireland club champions Kilmacud Crokes lock horns with Glen in what promises to be a titanic tussle.

We can all remember the controversy that surrounded the game when these two last met so given that history, it’ll be massive.

Also, the fact that these are the two best club teams left in the competition should make for interesting viewing.

When the Glen players and management sat down at the end of last season to review their campaign as a whole, you can bet your bottom dollar that the target was to get back to that stage this year and that they wanted another crack at Kilmacud.

Given how strong Kilmacud are, most other teams in the country would have wanted to avoid them, but something tells me that Glen want to win the All-Ireland by beating Kilmacud along the way.

We saw how last year’s game went with both teams so evenly matched and little has changed this time around. Both Kilmacud and Glen look as if they have actually pushed on further this year.

Obviously the big question for Glen, something they will have spent much of Christmas looking at, will be deciding on how they will go about shutting down Shane Walsh and Paul Mannion.

It’s easier said than done, but if they can do this, they are well on the way to winning this match. And, when you consider they have Ciaran McFaul (pictured) in the ranks this year, then they’re perfectly poised to take the scalp and dethrone the champions.

I am not being disrespectful when I say that whoever wins this game will go onto lift the title. I think we all know that so this is a massive game for Glen if they are to avenge last year‘s defeat and finally get their hands on that elusive prize.

I have gone over this game time and time again in my mind when I’m trying to pick a winner and it is so bloody difficult.

Kilmacud have two of the best forwards in the country, but they also have a very rigid structure which makes them difficult to beat.

That said, something is just telling me that Glen’s hurt from last year may see them squeeze over the line.

I’ll finish where I started by saying that it’s fantastic to have these games back up and running as they help us all ease our way into the New Year.

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