The fruits of persistence for Michael Warnock and Glen

By Michael McMullan

IT wasn’t always like this for Glen and Michael Warnock knows it too well.

Standing in the aftermath of a second successive Ulster senior title, he chooses phenomenal as the word that best describes being part of the current Glen glory story.

Then, he looks into the rear-view mirror to give some proper context of their amazing story.

“A core of this group got relegated a number of years ago and people forget that,” he said.

Year after year, they’d come back against a “great Sleacht Néill team” they used as a barometer.

“The club championship is close but (you) are further away from the five or six points when you played them,” Warnock admitted.

“We stuck at it and thankfully we have reaped the rewards years later.”

The difference from the dark days, Warnock puts it down to two things.

Their management team of Malachy O’Rourke, Ryan Porter, Johnny Bradley and Mickey McCullagh is “one of the top” in the country.

They have the quality in their squad with Warnock rhyming off many of the names all the way down to younger players like Alex Doherty and Conleth McGuckian.

“You need that quality to get over line and thankfully our underage production keeps producing which is key for the senior group and hopefully we can keep building on that,” said Warnock who also admits how the camp often reflect on the days when silverware wasn’t as plentiful.

For years, the talk was about Glen and how they didn’t have what it takes to win the biggest prize.

When relegated to intermediate in the last decade they failed to taste championship success. That sort of talk sticks.

“That was a big motivator for some of the senior group and we wanted to change that narrative,” Warnock explained, with every word spoken in the same humble nature Glen have offered right across their glory trail.

“We do tap into it and it is something that you’ll not forget that just because you were born into a certain area in a certain county that you don’t have a right to win championships, so we were keen to turn that on its head.”

Coming into Sunday’s showdown, there was justified talk about Scotstown’s raft of county players in a Farney team who have been at the top end of the footballing spectrum. Only Kerry can boast a longer unbroken spell in Division One.

For Warnock, Glen just had to focus on and place trust in their own group. The quality was there. Conor Glass, Emmett Bradley, Ciaran McFaul and Ethan Doherty were central to Derry’s recent success. There were other Watties in the Derry mix and there could’ve been more.

“We have a few players that could play at county level but there’s factors like it doesn’t interest them or they like going travelling in the first half of the year,” he said.

Danny McDermott and Eunan Mulholland have impressed Mickey Harte so far this season.

Warnock, while he didn’t say it, is one with all the attributes to slot into the Derry plans. He jokes how Sunday’s win will keep Ryan Dougan at home for another spell.

“When you are coming up against a group like that (Scotstown), you know it is going to be tight and right to the wire, so you just have to put a trust in your own group,” Warnock added.

Another piece of the Glen puzzle is how they’ve handled themselves after being gorged on success. They’ve never gotten above their station. Win. Celebrate. Accept the plaudits. Respect the opposition. Move on. That’s the consistent narrative.

“We have been on the back of many defeats for years and we know what that is like. If we were to get on our high horse too quickly, you’ll get shot down quite quickly,” Warnock said.

“We knew that whenever we became the champions of Derry, people were then coming after you. It is a different mentality that you need.

“It’s tough to become a champion but it’s even tougher stay at at the top and you have got to flip that mind-set.

“Malachy and Ryan have a lot of experience of winning and going again so they have been able to instil some of the things you need to do.”

For now, they enjoy the good times. Sunday’s homecoming was followed by Monday and sitting in each other’s company. It’s important to celebrate what needs celebrated.

A former Derry hurler himself, Warnock feels it’s hard on Cushendall – and the other clubs – to have to tune into the championship mode once again.

Glen had four weeks to prepare for Kilmacud Crokes in Newry – double the time.

“For us, we can enjoy a beer today and tomorrow, Christmas comes quick and January comes even quicker,” Warnock warned.

“We have a few weddings, a few sober weddings but what better way to spend your Christmas than playing football.”

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW