By Michael McMullan
GLEN skipper Connor Carville was in O’Neill’s Healy Park last weekend to run his eye over the Tyrone final and was “very impressed” with what he saw.
The back to back Derry champions face Errigal Ciaran on Sunday at Celtic Park (3.30) in an eagerly awaited clash of the titans.
Speaking at last week’s launch of the Ulster Club Championships, the Errigal imprint was less than 24 hours in his memory bank.
“I was very impressed with them and they look like a very dangerous team,” said Carville, one of the players to force his way back from injury this season after limping out in the dying embers of their extra time defeat to Kilcoo last autumn.
“They have eight Tyrone players, which is a serious amount in any club…they have quality right through their team.”
“People talk about the Canavans (Darragh and Ruairi), but you have Petey Harte, (Niall) Kelly at centre half back and (Ben) McDonnell put in a serious shift.
“They are a serious club and have a serious legacy, like some of the other clubs in this competition.”
After dominating Ulster at minor and u-21 level, Glen ended their search for senior glory last season and backed it up with another convincing run to the title.
Carville highlighted his contentment to be dining at the top table. Before they were beaten by Ballybay, 11-time winners Crossmaglen were in the mix before a ball was kicked.
“Kilcoo, the reigning All-Ireland champions are in there and Errigal have won it as well,” said the former MacRory and Hogan Cup winning captain.
“I am looking forward to getting a good battle with Errigal and I am sure plenty of neutrals will be looking forward to it as well.”
Glen were back at Celtic Park on Saturday as they continue their preparations for the visit of the Tyrone champions this weekend.
Carville sees Sunday’s game as a “serious battle” but relishes the buzz that comes with having the floodlights on at this time of the season as the stakes continue to rise.
“It is nice to be going out training and knowing you have a big day of Ulster Club football ahead of you,” said Carville. “It was just satisfying to back up what we had done before,” he said of retaining their title.
“If we hadn’t won another championship, people would’ve been saying it was a bit of a fluke that we got over the line and were a one hit wonder.
“Sleacht Néill were maybe thinking they were missing a few men last year and they weren’t too fresh…you have to back up what you do and thankfully we did.”
After an arm wrestle and a wonder point from Michael Warnock, Glen navigated the tricky visit to Letterkenny last season and backed it up with a comfortable win over Scotstown before losing out to Kilcoo.
Carville’ knee injury, that was flaring up from the county final, took a turn for the worse, forcing him off in the closing stages.
As extra time began, Conor Glass kicked Glen into the lead and they were in a good position in the game until Kilcoo intercepted a short kick-out that went wrong before Jerome Johnston hammered home his goal to turn the tide.
“It was a sore defeat, but every club has sore defeats and you have to learn from it. We tried to and that’s all you can do,” Carville said in a extremely level-headed manner.
“You can’t change things when they are done…you take it on the chin. Kilcoo went on to win the All-Ireland and fair play to them, they are a serious team.”
Watching on as Jerome Johnston’s late goal sunk Kilmacud Crokes on All-Ireland final day, Carville’s mind didn’t wonder into the ‘what if’ category.
“What happened that night, they deserved it,” he said of their defeat to Kilcoo. “There is nothing to say we would’ve got over the line in the Ulster final.”
“That was the end of it. You can’t say ‘what if’, we didn’t get the job done and you can’t go back on it.”
Check out Thursday’s Gaelic Life for an extensive look at the GAA scene from across Ulster.