Champions to face Scotstown acid test

Glen v Scotstown
Sunday, BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, 4pm
Live on TG4

By Michael McMullan

IT’S a gap of 12 months versus 23 years on Sunday as Glen put their title on the line against Scotstown who were last Kings of Ulster in 1989.

Gerry McCarville was midfield in their win over Coalisland and his son Michéal will be in the engine room this weekend.

Brendan Beggan was McCarville’s midfield partner and now his son Rory mixes his role between the posts and roving around to make himself an overlap option.

Ray McCarron hit 1-4 in the ’89 decider and his son Jack, following a transfer from Currin, nows features in the Scotstown attack.

Current selector Fergus Caulfield, father of Emmett, was part of the squad. Donal Morgan’s father Cormac and Ross McKenna’s father Niall were Ulster winners for Scotstown in their previous three successes.

Part of the ’89 Scotstown winning panel was Roger McDermott who is now on the other side of the fence, residing in Glen where he is involving in coaching. His son Danny will miss Sunday’s clash following a shoulder operation that forced him out of their semi-final win over Naomh Conaill.

Alongside Ciaran McFaul, teenager McDermott was an addition from last season and, still a student in St Patrick’s, Maghera, McDermott will also miss their MacRory Cup campaign. Malachy O’Rourke could turn to his older brother Jody who has made cameo appearances this season after his own injury problems.

Jack Doherty and Conor Convery were late omissions and O’Rourke will give them every chance to declare their fitness for Sunday’s showdown.

A glance at the clubs and in terms of experience, Scotstown have the upper hand.

Eleven of the players who played in their 2015 extra-time near miss against Crossmaglen are still on board, Make that 12 if you count David McCague who stepped into the manager post this season.

Half of McCague’s current 30-man squad played some part in the 2018 defeat to Gaoth Dobhair, also after extra-time.

Scotstown have emerged from the Farney County eight times in the last 13 seasons. Of that spell, 2012 is the only season they didn’t make the final.

On the flip side, Glen are a new kid on the Ulster block at senior level having came on the scene for the first time in 2021.

Scratch the surface and they have an experienced group of players. Between club minor, u-21, MacRory Cup and Derry minors, their squad is littered with players with big day experience. It was underage, but it still was their big day at the time.

Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Ciaran McFaul, Danny Tallon and Ethan Doherty have played roles in Derry’s revival. Mickey Harte has since expressed an interest in Michael Warnock, Ryan Dougan, Danny McDermott and Eunan Mulholland.

If you are picking a winner based on the semi-final performances, you’d be scratching your head. On this week’s Gaelic Lives podcast, columnist Gerard O’Kane said he’d keep his tenner in his pocket. There is little to choose between them.

Glen have hit nine wides each in their wins over Cargin and Naomh Conaill. In patches, they’ve been excellent but their shot selection has been questionable though their opponents deserve credit for the pressure.

That said, championship football is all about staying in the hat, nothing more. A key part of the Glen story has been how O’Rourke’s right-hand man Ryan Porter has always had Glen primed for the biggest days.

There were reports of heavy training in the middle of the Derry group stages. Timing is everything. Kilcoo had previously looked like the side best placed to take the title but have since been knocked out.

Scotstown needed late scores to get them to Sunday. After missing earlier chances, Rory Beggan kicked a monster score from play and nailed the late winner against the Magpies.

Despite being well marshalled by Daniel Donnelly, Conor McCarthy broke free to kick the equaliser against Trillick to take a game they previously controlled to extra-time.

Scotstown have 12 different scorers across their two Ulster games, albeit one went to extra-time. It’s two more then Glen who have always had a spread of scorers throughout their team.

To say Sunday’s midfield battle will be important is an understatement. Emmett Bradley and Conor Glass versus Darren Hughes and Michéal McCarville.

Add in the fact that Hughes – and his brother Kieran – were sent off when Glen were 2-18 to 0-12 winners when the sides met two years ago.

The Ryan Dougan battle with Jack McCarron will be an interesting one and fans will be excited to see if Conor McCarthy and Ethan Doherty end up in a head-to-head battle.

It could take extra-time and more. It’s impossible to call. If Glen can get Jack Doherty available, they might just have the edge. Sunday will tell the tale

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