Grafter Jonathan Glynn also possesses silken skills

Damien Hayes, in reflecting on Portumna’s journey to the 2014 All-Ireland club hurling decider, cited their county quarter-final fixture against Ardrahan as the most troublesome hurdle.

Grafter Jonathan Glynn also possesses silken skills

On the second last Sunday of the previous September, Portumna had fallen over the finishing line – 1-15 to 1-14 they edged out the South Galway outfit.

At the root of their problems on a particularly wintry afternoon at St Brendan’s Park, Loughrea was a 20-year old Jonathan Glynn.

Time and time again did the 6’4” half-forward pull possession from the sky. Indeed, such was his aerial dominance that as the contest progressed the Portumna defenders simply stopped competing under the dropping ball. Instead, when Glynn’s two feet returned to earth was he swallowed up a by a swarm of blue and gold jerseys.

The favourites notched 1-2 in the final six-minutes to win out by the minimum.

Vincent Mullins turns the page to 2014, the first round of the county championship.

Galway’s two-time All-Ireland winning U21 manager (2005 and ’07) was on the sideline at Kenny Park, Athenry for Ardrahan’s championship opener. Pearses provided the opposition and devoid of the services of the injured Iarla Tannian, Ardrahan were expected to struggle.

They won by seven, Glynn the hero.

“He gave an outstanding display of fielding,” recalls Mullins.

“They couldn’t do anything with him. They tried several different lads on him, they even put two on him for a while, but it made no use.

“Johnny was under pressure to perform in Iarla’s absence. The team required a leader and Johnny made a statement that day.”

The Mullins’ live one house down from the Glynns in the South Galway village. The latter has become a hive of activity in recent days with both of Jonathan’s siblings returning home from foreign shores to watch their brother line out at Croke Park.

His sister Laura made the journey from Australia, while Brian arrived in from New York on Thursday - the All-Ireland semi-final coinciding with the 2015 Rose of Tralee in which Brian’s girlfriend Sophie Colgan is representing New York.

“They came from football stock,” continues Mullins. “Their father Martin was a Garda from Caherlistrane.

“Johnny simply propped up at around the age of 14. He just mushroomed in height.

“You could see he had a very good hand and wasn’t afraid to use it. When you have a young fella like that and he is bigger than the opposition, they can dominate. He did.”

Centre-forward on the Galway team to claim the 2011 All-Ireland minor title, the following September he was sprung from the bench for the half-three event. His swift progression surprised few in the club.

“Management were looking for a big mobile guy who could catch a ball under pressure. Johnny topped the bill.”

Intercepting a stray Tommy Walsh pass with five-minutes remaining in the replayed final, Glynn stepped inside the challenge of Paul Murphy and nailed the top left corner of the Kilkenny goal. At 19-years young, he certainly didn’t look out of place.

“I’d meet Johnny at the house or down at the pitch when he’d be training or helping with the younger kids and the one thing I always tell him is that he should be taking his own scores.”

Galway hit 9-64 in their opening three championship games this summer, the 22-year old Medtronic employee didn’t contribute a single point.

“He is a confidence player who tends to be very unselfish with the ball. Since he was a young lad, he always tries to bring as many players into the play as possible.

“Grafting isn’t a trait you would typically associate with a Galway hurler. We’ve always been known for producing more skilful hurlers. The guy that does the grafting, does the hard work, he deserves credit.

“That is why it was so brilliant to see him take off 30 seconds into the All-Ireland quarter-final and watch as he parted the Red Sea.

“He didn’t get the credit for the control when he threw the ball over the head of Mark Ellis. He really controlled the ball superbly and put it away.

“He should do that more often for I’ve seen him take off too many times where he hasn’t’ been stopped. In full flight, he’s impossible to bring down.”

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