HE was already one of the most well-respected managers anywhere in the country, but Malachy O’Rourke’s stock has risen even further after a sensational season with the Glen footballers.
O’Rourke was named our Football Manager of the Year at last Friday night’s All-Stars ceremony at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan, the latest accolade for the Fermanagh native who has tasted success down the years at both club and county level.
In 2021 he guided Glen to their historic first ever Senior Championship title in Derry, and they made more history for themselves in 2022 by capturing the Ulster Senior title with a barnstorming performance against reigning All-Ireland champions Kilcoo. The show didn’t stop their as they made it to the All-Ireland final, where they lost in controversial fashion to Kilmacud Crokes. A disappointing way to end the season, yes, but it’s been a whirlwind few years under the ever-affable and astute Malachy O’Rourke.
Speaking after winning his award last Friday night, O’Rourke said: “After winning Derry for the first time we wondered would the lads have the hunger to go back and build upon that success. It was natural to have that doubt in the minds of the management team, but it wasn’t long before we found out the hunger was still there. To go and win Ulster was brilliant – we were disappointed last year to lose in the semi-final to Kilcoo so to come back and achieve redemption was fantastic. It’s been a brilliant time for the club and they’ve deserved it.”
The burning question is whether Glen can get back to competing on the biggest stage of all in the near future. O’Rourke is hopeful that will be the case, but it obviously won’t be easy.
“I suppose I’d like to think the experience will stand to us, but it’s a long way back and you have to start with laying the foundations in your won county first and foremost. The boys will have to try to navigate their way through Derry and that’s all we can focus on at the minute. But the experience of reaching the All-Ireland final should only help.”