Glenswilly were unlucky today, losing a fiercely contested Ulster Senior Club Football championship final to Balinderry, champions of Derry. A Michael Murphy goal inside the first 30 seconds gave Glenswilly a platform to keep Balinderry at bay for the first 20 minutes. Balinderry’s Michael McIver’s fisted goal from a deflection plus some well taken points left Glenswilly four points adrift at half time.
A strong comeback at the beginning of the second half with 1-1 scored in the first minute with a couple more points tacked on saw the Donegal men led by the slimmest of margins briefly. However, Balinderry had time to settle and regroup. The remainder of the game was controlled by the Derry men and unfortunately it wasn’t to be Glenswilly’s day. Final score, 1-13 to 2-6.
I have fully supported Glenswilly throughout their Ulster campaign and was disappointed with today’s result. After all, they were representing all the clubs of Donegal and their club contains three of the stars of our county team so, support should have been unanimous around the county. Alas, this is the real world where inter-club rivalry, a good thing in general, often boils over into vicious hatred. Sometimes all it takes is one incident to spark a reaction which escalates into a cycle of hatred between some supporters and players of opposing clubs.
Of the supporters who attend matches only a very small minority actively display over-the-top aggression. This behaviour often tars the reputation of an entire club in the eyes of others looking for a reason to dislike a successful club. Every club in the country has its fair share of louts on the field, the side-lines and in the stands. These guys, thankfully, are tiny in numbers but unfortunately big on vocals. The County Board really should look at disciplinary action for supporters found to be bringing the reputation of their club into disrepute.
I’m reminded of an incident at the end of Naomh Conaill’s exit from the 2011 Senior County Championship at the hands of Glenswilly. A Glenswilly Maor Uisce confronted a Naomh Conaill player, who was quite obviously dejected having lost the game, and proceeded to squirt water in his face and followed up with the quip “There’s your Ulster Final for ya now ya… insert multiple expletives” -Naomh Conaill had been beaten in the 2010 Ulster Final by Crossmaglen- there followed a mass brawl which saw broken noses, jaws, fines and player suspensions. Since then relations between the two clubs have been strained to say the least and matches, boiling cauldrons of tension.
This incident stemmed from that horrible trait some of we Irish seem to have of resenting the success of others then revelling in their failure when in comes. A mutual professional respect between athletes and coaches from every club, you would think, should be automatic given that the level of sacrifice and hard work put in week in and week out is virtually the same. In the main it is but it’s the few who spark trouble when self-control is lost.
When I was reminded of the aforementioned incident yesterday, as a Naomh Conaill man, I did consider my support for Glenswilly today but it’s sport and I love it and I will always roar for the people representing my county whether it be football or tiddlywinks. We all should. We do it at inter-county level so, why the hell not at provincial and national club level?