Carville hoping glory will inspire the next generation

By Michael McMullan

GLEN captain Connor Carville hopes Sunday’s historic win in Croke Park will inspire the next generation of Glen players to follow their dreams.

Carville was forced off with an injury in the second half against St Brigid’s to add to the many setbacks dished out to them.

With Danny McDermott already on the injured list, Jack Doherty failed to recover from an ankle injury sustained in the semi-final win over Kilmacud Crokes.

Eunan Mulholland’s calf injury limited his involvement until he was replaced before half-time.

Glen leaked a goal after half-time having wrestled their way back from four points down.

On a day they squandered a litany of chances, they lost Cathal Mulholland for 10 minutes to a black card in the critical final quarter.

“It is instilled in us, the belief that you keep fighting ‘til the final whistle,” Carville said of how Glen have come to deal with adversity.

“We said all along that these games are going to be tight. You just keep going and we have serious belief in the group and a real togetherness and the character comes through in the end.

“We are just over the moon, to be All-Ireland champions, to be top of the mountain.”

The reference to the mountain came from Glen’s mantra of rolling their season goals like the Tour de France. They’d have three stages – retaining their Derry championship, climbing to the top in Ulster again and going one better to land Andy Merrigan.

Carville used being on the top of a mountain in his speech and post-game interviews.

During the team’s celebrations on Monday, Man of the Match Conor Glass was wearing a replica Tour de France yellow jersey and joked of his love for cycling.

Before boarding the team bus for the magical journey north from Croke Park, Carville spoke with the same composure as usual.

Standing outside the same dressing room door as he delivered a post-final interview in utter disappointment 12 months earlier, his words in victory remained the same. Measured and dignified.

“We need to live this moment, enjoy every second of it, it means the world to us,” said the skipper. These are the days of their lives.

The pain of watching Kilmacud lift the cup last year left Glen striving to go one better. It was a case of taking one step at a time.

During his victory speech, he offered the same word in the direction of the gutted St Brigid’s players who held the upper hand for much of Sunday’s final. Kilcoo, Kilmacud and Glen were in their shoes before righting the wrong.

Carville also referenced their bumpy path that included a late Emmett Bradley winner against Naomh Conaill, coming from behind to beat Scotstown and holding in the fog against Kilmacud.

“We wouldn’t be All-Ireland champions without coming through big battles,” he said with total sincerity in his voice.

“You expect that sort of thing and we expected a huge game here today.

“If we were being very critical we’d be very disappointed with our performance but we kept digging in, we kept believing, kept going right to the final whistle and I am so proud of the boys.”

One of the tough moments was Brian Derwin’s goal. After Glen’s battle back from four points down to go in level at half-time, they were back at square one when he palmed Ben O’Carroll’s cross to the net for a 1-8 to 1-5 lead.

“I looked up and there was 35 minutes (on the scoreboard) and we still have 25 minutes, there was no need to panic or anything like that,” Carville said.

It’s about the next ball. Can you win a turnover? What influence can you have on the next play?

“I know the other boys would be thinking that too,” said Carville was forced off injured nine minutes later.

“I was on the sideline but the boys really dug in and I am so, so happy they did.”

Carville has now lifted three Derry and two Ulster titles with Glen. He was captain of various underage winning teams. It was his second time lifting silverware in Croke Park after leading St Patrick’s, Maghera to the MacRory and Hogan Cup double in 2013.

Nine of the players in action that day were filing on the Glen bus behind Carville on Sunday in Croke Park.

In the days and weeks that follow, the magnitude of winning the All-Ireland and being the fourth Derry club to do so will sink in.

“My hope is that it inspires future generations,” he said of Sunday’s win “The young boys around Glen, you see them all the time, they are mad for football, they live for it.

“They are kicking about when we are training and you hope it inspires them in some way

“On the flipside, you also hope that men can die happy. My Granda (Michael McKeefry) is 87. There probably not many more years left, but hopefully he does. I know now he can die happy that Glen are Kings of Ireland.”

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