By Michael McMullan
THEY may have entered the Ulster scene through the back door, but midfielder Bliadhan Glass insists Na Magha have fully bought into their build-up to Sunday’s meeting with Warrenpoint.
Na Magha lost out to Lavey in the Derry junior final but weren’t graded as a junior team with Na Magha taking their spot at provincial level.
“Everyone has bought into it and the whole atmosphere has changed,” Glass said at Monday’s launch of the Ulster Club Championships in Armagh.
“We have a new coach in helping us, Johnny Tipp (O’Dwyer). Training has been very good and there has been a lot of game-based stuff with more positivity around the club.”
Glass, a former underage hurler with Sleacht Néill teaches in Derry City and transferred “seven or eight” years ago.
“I still feel like one of the young boys, but I am the second oldest after Breandán Quigley,” he joked.
Of the highlights from their recent past is taking Ballinascreen to the pin of their collar for three quarters of their meeting at Celtic Park last autumn. It took Segdae Melaugh goal to save Lavey from an upset against Na Magha earlier this season.
“We nearly caused an upset, but moral victories are well and good. We need to go and actually win something,” Glass said.
Na Magha have been without former Derry star Alan Grant with a long-term injury and current county player Deaghlan Foley missed their defeat to Lavey after operation on a facial injury.
“He is back now, he’s flying and we depend a lot on him,” Glass said of Foley’s return. “He was advised by a doctor not to (play in the Derry final), a slap would’ve opened it up again so he was wise not to play.”
A challenge game with Dungloe has been the total of their match practice with games impossible to secure in a window dominated by county finals across Ulster.
Looking back at last year, their is regret at their controversial defeat at the hands of Carrickmacross. A discrepancy in the scoreline left Na Magha feeling they’d won the game before losing after extra time.
After the unsuccessful appeal process, they were left out in the cold, but Glass feels they didn’t help themselves on the day.
“We only have ourselves to blame, we hurled very well in the first half of that game, but after half-time we were woeful,” he said. “We have something to get at this year and hopefully we do.”
Looking back at their notable performance in recent seasons, Glass points to not having their full squad available. That has all changed with a full panel getting used to Celtic Park with training sessions on the pitch in their buildup and everyone pushing for a place.
“We probably would’ve won both,” he said, referring to their near misses against Ballinascreen and Lavey.
“This week is the first time in a while that we are going in with a full panel and everyone is flying and in great shape.”
With limited access to video footage of Warrenpoint, he is leaving it up to the management to assess their opponents and focusing on his hurling.
“I found from last year that I was spending too much time looking at how opponents were playing and you nearly overthink it. I feel I hurl better when I go in more relaxed.”