Matty McGleenan: Meeting Crossmaglen in Ulster final leaves 'nothing to be afraid of’

Scotstown’s disappointing 2014 season? Manager Matty McGleenan isn’t hiding from the blame.
Matty McGleenan: Meeting Crossmaglen in Ulster final leaves 'nothing to be afraid of’

After ruling the roost in Monaghan in 2013, he accepts his own shortcomings in losing to rivals Clontibret in the final, albeit marginally.

“To be honest, and this was my fault, we allowed standards to slip from the previous year in terms of our performance and our expectations. I would put that down to what I call ‘success disease’.

“The first year (2013) was my first senior championship to have ever won, it was the players’ first time in 20 years to win one and we probably got carried away, in terms of the standard of performance the following year.

“And then, when you lose a county final by a point, you suddenly realise what you have missed and what you have left go. In fairness, from that point on, the players have been outstanding in terms of training and their work-rate. “We have only lost three games this season in all competitions, and even though they were league games, we are in the league final on Friday week.

“So we have had a serious season and this weekend we are in an Ulster final. It is our first time that we are all here. I said to the players that I want them to ‘go out, try your best and enjoy yourself’. That is all I can ask for.”

Living in Eglish 35 minutes from Scotstown, former Tyrone player McGleenan has the benefit of perspective, and he needed plenty of it after that final loss where Conor McManus excelled and Conor Boyle shot the winner in injury-time.

“It is very difficult to deal with,” acknowledges a candid McGleenan. “It is not until you have lost and you are sitting in the dressing room the first night after losing the county final. It was a very dark room but there was a lot of very honest talk that night, in terms of mistakes that we had made, things that we needed to improve on. Everyone took responsibility, which was fantastic.

“You know that you are beginning to heal when people are not afraid to put their hands up and say ‘it was my fault’ and then you can resolve to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

“This year we have done everything possible to create the best environment for the players and now we are in an Ulster final.

“We had a superb game against Slaughtneil, an absolutely amazing game of football to be involved in and we just got across the line against Trillick.”

If Scotstown are to shock Crossmaglen tomorrow, much is likely to depend on how the Hughes brothers, Darren and Kieran, operate.

The pair have shown their versatility throughout McGleenan’s tenure, no more so than this season where Darren has gone from playmaker to target man and Kieran the other way around.

“We played Kieran at full-back in the county final three years ago, he marked Mansy (McManus) that day and we have used him at half-back all year and he has been our playmaker. He has great vision on the ball and Darren has just been outstanding at full-forward. He has shown throughout the Ulster club and right through the championship that he is a very dangerous man in there.

“He is our go-to man for us. In fact, both of them are. If you are in trouble, you get the ball to them, let them go about their business. There are players in life that you are blessed to come across, and Darren Hughes is one of them. I don’t tell Darren what to do, if he sees trouble he goes and attacks ball and wins ball. If he thinks that a ball needs to be won at midfield, he will go out there and do it.

“He is one of those marquee players, and Kieran is the same, where you can give them the licence that wherever they see trouble, they can go and sort it out. In fairness, they have been outstanding out on the field.”

Travelling to Armagh city, McGleenan has told the players to embrace what is likely to be an intense atmosphere where the Crossmaglen Rangers’ support will outnumber the Scotstown’s following.

“We are facing Crossmaglen, who have been the best club team in Ireland for the last 10 years. This is a great place to be, you look at the Athletic Grounds and it is a wonderful place to play a game of football.

“I said to the boys already that they can expect the crowd to be down on top of them and the atmosphere will be electric.

“This is nothing to be afraid of, this is a place where it should be a wonderful experience to play in and the only way to have a wonderful time is to go out and play well.”

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