Character has lifted the spirit of Glen Rovers

Romantics call it the spirit of the Glen. Ian Lynam prefers a more mundane term: character.

Character has lifted the spirit of Glen Rovers

During their Munster semi-final against Patrickswell, Glen Rovers hit seven wides inside the opening 14 minutes and, in the process, failed to produce a flag of any description by the close of the first quarter.

The heads never dropped, though. They continued to hurl in the slipstream of the Limerick champions until parity was achieved in the 38th minute and, even at that, they did not manage to overtake their opponents until two minutes from the end of regulation time.

Heads, despite almost a full hour in the shadow of Patrickswell, never once dropped.

Return to the Glen’s previous outing; the county final against Erin’s Own. Having held a 0-12 to 1-3 advantage early in the second period, Richie Kelleher’s charges found themselves rocked with the clock showing 50 minutes. Momentum and the scoreboard, now reading 2-10 to 0-14 in favour of the Glounthaune outfit, had swung from them. Once again, heads remained upright and the result was eked out.

“Character,” says Glen Rovers coach Lynam, “we didn’t just show it in those two games, we’ve shown it all year.”

Trawl back through their county championship campaign and you’ll find there isn’t a smidgen of exaggeration in this statement.

“In the second round against Sars, we were 11 points down at half-time. We came back. Twenty-two minutes into the Bishopstown quarter-final and we were 0-7 to 0-0 down. We came back.

“Even the county final looked as if it was going from us. In fairness to them, they never give in. They keep chipping away. They don’t panic. They have been hanging in and getting the results.”

Can said character be moulded on the training field or, to use that old romantic phrase, how does a coach tap into the spirit of the Glen?

“You can’t coach it. You either have it or you don’t. There are ways of getting it out of them, but you have to have it in you.

“If you can keep them happy you’ve a better chance of getting it out of them. We’re lucky that we have a fantastic bunch who are all fantastic friends. You can see that out on the field. They back one another up. They don’t leave anybody isolated. If anything goes wrong, they’re all in it together. That hasn’t happened over the last two years. That has happened over years and years and years.”

And, truth be told, management have been pleasantly surprised at how well this team has blended together given it comprises players from three different age-groups. There’s the older crop of Graham Callanan, David Cunningham and Donal Cronin who won a City U21 title back in 2003. There are the lads who are 27, 28, namely Brian Moylan, Stephen McDonnell and Hoggy, and then there’s the newest recruits, the early twenty-somethings such as Dave Noonan and Dave Dooling.

“The older two groups have been playing together for the past seven or eight years,” continues Lynam. “The younger fellas, to say they’re not shy is an understatement. They’re cocky. They give as good as they get in the dressing room which is unusual for young fellas. They blend extremely well.”

It’s all contributed to a busy club shop and sold out supporters’ buses.

“That’s what you want. We haven’t tasted Munster success in a long, long time. This is the first time in 40 years the club has been in a Munster final. We hadn’t won a county in 26 years before last year. We retained the county this year, which is our centenary year.”

Time to pen a new chapter?

“Oh, without a doubt. We are not going to make up the numbers on Sunday. We know it is going to be tough. Before the semis, everyone would have been asking who are Thurles Sars going to be playing in the Munster final. They’re not there anymore. It obviously takes a good team to beat them. We’ll be focused and we’ll be ready.

“Your mind always drifts [to coming back to the clubhouse with a Munster title], you always dream. We’ve been living a dream for the last two years.”

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