By Michael McMullan
AS Bronagh Mulholland’s voice bellowed into the Maghera sky on Sunday night, she introduced the entire Glen squad as they stepped up onto the lorry container to take their moment of applause from fans thronged below them.
Committee member, mother of players Cathal and Eunan, she took extra delight when it was Conor Convery’s turn to step from the darkness.
“Me and this next man deserve a well-deserved day off tomorrow,” she shouted about her teaching colleague at the local Glenview School.
Hours earlier, as he headed for the winners dressing room, Convery put their Ulster final into context.
“For the school it’s everything and for the community…there have been some tough days when we thought we’d never see this day. It’s magic, just thank God to get over the line,” he said.
“The wains are asking you about the match and they’re just buzzing. That’s what it’s all about, the youth and getting them involved.
“They are buzzing and hopefully it can inspire the next generation to think they can be here someday and that’s what it’s all about.”
When he breaks down the “tough days” it’s the defeats. Underage success was plentiful, but senior football is a “different ball game”.
“There have been tough losses and we have been taught some lessons by Sleacht Néill,” he said, “Cargin came down one day and beat us in a friendly and taught us some lessons.”
These are the yardsticks needed to tell them exactly where they were.
From a decorated underage career, the first of their Ulster minor wins, in 2011, instilled belief that they could belong on the Ulster scene.
But they had to get there first. It took hard work and intensity.
“Malachy (O’Rourke) and Ryan (Porter) came in and gave us that bit of an edge.”
“The togetherness…we knew we had the players and needed to get everybody together and put in a shift and just lift it a level and hopefully we’d be there or thereabouts,” he said of what eventually tipped the scales in their favour at senior level.
Watching their neighbours in maroon and white, many of who Convery shared winning school football memories with, also lit s fire.
“Thankfully we got the break of the ball and won one (Derry title) and won again this year and have progressed,” he said.
“They (the Emmet’s) were the kingpins in Ulster for four or five years and seeing that…it sort of galvanizes you in a way. You are asking if we can get to that level.”
So what is the next level? Intensity again dances off Convery’s tongue. Preparation and management.
“Whatever it is…hard work. They eked out results and you have to eke out results
“It’s hard work and a mentality that you are never going to give in.”