By Michael McMullan
DERRY captain Conor Glass states the importance of being “switched on” at all times in how they set up.
Despite conceding two goals, the Oakleafers were home and hosed in their win over Monaghan the time Conor Leonard took aim in search of a third goal. Glass threw himself across to make the last-ditch block in the third minute of stoppage time.
“It is just throwing your body on the line,” Glass said, explaining the hard and unseen yards Rory Gallagher’s side continue to put in.
“That’s just the fight to the death mentality that all of our players have. We want to be going into every changing room and to be able to look each other in the eye and know we have gone into battle and did everything for them.”
The Glen man showed no signs of the injury that plagued him at the tail end of the league and kicked two points in Saturday’s win in Omagh. The first came after 50 seconds to set the tone, with the second arriving after Monaghan’s 1-1 brace shot them back into contention in the third quarter.
Going into Sunday week’s final with Armagh, the Derry camp will no doubt by trying to tidy up issues in their game, the main one being the concession of eight goals across their last three outings.
Central to that will be Glass, who has excellent positional sense and organisational traits in defence to go along with his ability to offer his side enough going the other way.
“You have to be switched on all the time,” Glass said of Derry’s plan. “When you think your job is done, you are probably out of position.
“It’s not just about getting back into position; it’s about helping your teammates also.
“You are playing at the highest standard in the country, so it only takes one slip up and it costs you a score or a goal. It does take a lot of effort but that’s the trust we have in each other.”
Glass is an advocate of the Ulster Championship, despite the new-look All-Ireland series that was drawn on Tuesday. He hopes it is here to stay.
In an interview with the County Derry Post, before returning from Australia, he spoke of the desire to lift silverware with club and county being an huge factor on his decision to come home.
“It probably exceeded my expectation,” Glass said of his level of success over the last two seasons.
He was too young to fully experience previous Derry teams at the top level.
Now the crowds are bigger than his minor days. After games, there are a plethora of fans waiting for his signature and photo.
The GAA a huge draw among the young fans and the scampering for tickets for next weekend’s Clones showdown has already begun.
“It is not until you are on the pitch that you feel that factor. These days don’t come around too often and the more often we can play in these bigger games in front of bigger crowds, the better this team will be,” he said, admitting that county camps are otherwise “quite shielded” from the excitement on the outside.
But, as a café owner in Maghera, he can’t totally escape the colour.
“Everywhere you drive in Derry, you see a Derry top. O’Neill’s will be pretty happy with the Derry sales,” he said with a smile.
“Everywhere you go, you are seeing Derry jerseys, the Errigal sponsorship, you are seeing the whole lot
“You have the Derry primary school days and we had a few of them last year, so it adds something different to the children.”