Stephen McDonnell stood inside the entrance to the Páirc Uí Rinn field. Several of his team-mates had returned to the dressing-room to continue celebrations with an old acquaintance of the club, but McDonnell wasn’t quite ready to depart the scene of the Glen’s famous return to the summit of Cork senior hurling championship hurling.
Now in his ninth year with the club’s flagship team, he has known little other than hurt and regret on county final afternoon.
Sunday was different, Glen Rovers taking charge of their own destiny on this occasion.
“I started playing senior hurling when I was 17. I have been in so many losing dressing-rooms, I have seen so many tears in losing dressing-rooms, getting so far only to fall at one of the last hurdles, losing because of this and blaming that. To actually win, especially after last year, is special. I nearly went to tears,” said the corner-back. Twelve months ago they suffered a 16-point final humiliation at the hands of Sars.
The easy option would have been to drift back into the pack, particularly after their opening round defeat to Ballymartle in late May.
“It would have been very easy for us to go away after last year, continue to feel sorry for ourselves and blame this and blame that. We didn’t. We did the hard thing. We put our heads down and worked hard.
“We fought for each other and fought for ourselves. We just knew if we kept doing that, that we were in with a chance of winning.
“We will always be the team that needs to work hard and will work hard. If you do, the spirt of the Glen will take over, the hard work will take over. That happened here.”
Right from the off, their in-your-face approach had Sars in bother. David Cunningham horsed Ronan Murphy out over the sideline with a fine shoulder on two minutes. The tone was set.
“We said to ourselves whatever we do we are going to make their lives as hard as possible. We really went out there with that intent. If you looked at any one of us in the eyes, you would have seen that intent.
“You saw there what happened when we put it up to them, we hounded them and hassled them. They knew we weren’t going to go away. We knew we could beat them and we knew there was more in us. That gave us great confidence coming back out. We found that extra gear to pull away from Sars.”
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