‘Ard luck but Glack Glee as O’Connor’s promoted

Glack have been languishing in the bottom tier of league football in Derry for the past five years so it was understandable that the players were euphoric at the end of this promotion play-off in Dean McGlinchey Park, Ballinascreen on Sunday.

Seamus Mullan reports

Glack manager Aaron O’Connor, so animated throughout the game as he willed his young side over the line, was visibly relieved after the final whistle.

“It’s been a long time in coming,” admitted the O’Connor’s manager, “When I took over this job I said the young players would be a priority but over these last few weeks it’s been the older players who have helped the younger players and brought them on and a big ‘thanks’ goes to those players.

“And another man who came back to us this year and put in a lot of work with the players is John McLaughlin, work that we started last year. I’m just over the moon right now. It’s a long time since Glack had a bit of success. We’re an old, old club and it’s about time there was a bit of silverware brought back to the club.”

Indeed it is and while Glack have experienced the highs and lows of promotion and relegation over the years, their last league silverware dates back to 1974 when they won the Division 3 title !

Now with the league title and promotion achieved, they can truly say they were the best team in junior ranks this season and fully deserve their place in the sun.

When O’Connor was informed that understandably disappointed Ardmore manager William McLaughlin said ‘the best team won’, he responded, “I think we played the better football. I knew from the start of the season that Ardmore would provide us with the toughest matches all season and they showed that. Fair play to them, they’ve always been gracious in defeat. The last time we met we joked that we should have our dinner dance together as we’ve met that often. I just want to say thanks to Ardmore and hope that they will join us as they still have a chance of going up.”

Glack got the goals at just the right time, with Jason Canning getting them off to the perfect start with the first goal after 30 seconds and then Niall McGowan ten minutes from half time to give them a 2-05 to 0-05 cushion at the interval.

After the first goal, McGowan pointed a free when Gerard Storey picked the ball off the ground, Aaron Gallagher and Storey getting Ardmore on the scoreboard with a brace of points. Ryan Morgan pointed for 1-02 to 0-02 after eight minutes, the scoring becalmed until midway through the half when Jason Canning broke through the Ardmore defence but elected to take a point when a goal beckoned.

In the 17th minute Chris Duddy, whose midfield display kept Ardmore in the hunt until the closing minutes, did well to get the ball to Ryan Storey who cut the lead to 1-03 to 0-03 after a strong run.

However, the irrepressible Kieran Carmichael who, along with the vastly experienced Sean McNicholl and Shane Toner, were outstanding in the Glack defence set up Ronan O’Kane for the fourth point and then came the second and most crucial goal which gave Glack a 2-04 to 0-03 advantage in the 20th minute.

Full-forward Cormac Boyle, after a spell of sustained Glack pressure, fisted the ball into the path of McGowan and he hit the net to put the O’Connor’s in control.

“Without a doubt the goals came at the right time,” added the Glack manager, “Those were crucial scores as they gave us a healthy lead at half time. We’d been talking to the players about putting the ball over the bar and stop going for goals because a few times in earlier games a bit of inexperience showed as they were going for goals when they should have been tapping the ball over the bar.”

In the final minutes of the half William ‘Al’ McLaughlin pointed two Ardmore frees and Kieran Carmichael kicked one for Glack, 2-06 to 0-06 the advantage when the sides headed for the break.

Glack would have expected a strong reaction from Ardmore in the second half but they dented their confidence in the opening couple of minutes when Ryan Morgan and Mark Moore posted points within two minutes of the resumption.

However with Anthony Hargan keeping the dangerous Jimmy O’Connor relatively quiet and with Duddy winning a lot of ball in the middle of the field, Ardmore tried very hard to cut into the lead. But with Sean McNicholl and Eddie McLaughlin sealing off the middle, Shane Toner and Kieran Carmichael carrying the ball securely on numerous occasions out of defence, Ardmore were unable to score freely.

‘Al’ McLaughlin did point three frees by the 40th minute to narrow the gap to five points but Ardmore lacked the cutting edge to penetrate the tight-marking Glack rearguard.

Thomas O’Kane took a pass from Carmichael midway through the half and restored Glack’s six point half time advantage. Glack put the gloss on a terrific performance with points from a Niall McGowan free and marauding corner back Shane Toner who scored one from play and then comfortably cleared the crossbar with a 59th minute pointed ‘45’.

“Jason Canning stepped in as the captain and at training he’s driving them on,” explained O’Connor, “He wanted success this year but we’re a young side and it’s going to be a big step up next year. But we’re already putting things in place to meet that challenge. We know it’s a big ask but we’re going to prepare for it right.

“It’s nice to have a bit of success. All the years that I’ve been playing football for Glack I have been on the wrong end of drubbings. It’s nice that we have turned that around, that we are starting to win games instead. It’s been a great day and it will be an even better night.”

Glack scorers: Jason Canning 1-02, Niall McGowan 1-02 (1f), Ryan Morgan 0-02, Shane Toner 0-02 (1f), Ronan O’Kane, Mark Moore, Kieran Carmichael and Tomas O’Kane 0-01 each

Ardmore scorers: William ‘Al’ McLaughlin 0-06 (5f), Aaron Gallagher, Ryan Storey and James Cruickshank

Glack: James Martin McLaughlin; Ryan O’Kane, Eddie McLaughlin, Shane Toner; Thomas O’Kane, Sean McNicholl, Kieran Carmichael; Jay Clyde, Mark Moore; Ronan O’Kane, Niall McGowan, Jason Canning; Ryan Morgan, Cormac Boyle, Jimmy O’Connor

Ardmore: Eoin Mailey; Anthony Hargan, Eoghan Dooher, Leonard Quinn; Ryan Storey, Richie McGrotty, Chris Gormley; Gerard Storey, Chris Duddy; Barry Gormley, James Cruickshank, Peter McLaughlin; William ‘Al’ McLaughlin, Aaron Gallagher, Gerard Quinn. (Subs) Peter Harrigan for A Gallagher 35 mins; Mark O’Kane for R Storey 38 mins

Referee: Mervyn McAleese (Drum)