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02 Oct 2022

Naomh Columba and the long roads to progression

Naomh Columba face Gaeil Fhánada in one of this weekend's intermediate championship semi-finals and manager Paddy J McGinley says a return to the top table in the coming season is 'vitally important' for Glen

Naomh Columba and the long roads to progression

Ryan Gillespie is one of the Naomh Columba players based in Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

Paddy J McGinley took a look around the Naomh Columba dressing room on Sunday and felt the pride filling.

The modern commitments are stark on club footballers, but it feels as if the task is up a notch when it comes to remote clubs like Naomh Columba.

From Donegal’s most south-westerly tip in Glencolmcille, most games - never mind training - involved a trek.

The squad has an assortment of players who have to make their way from all arts and parts. McGinley and the home-based players have made the concession to meet halfway for training.

Fionn Gallagher comes in from London for matches at the weekend. The travelling contingent includes Christopher Byrne, Paddy Byrne, Ryan Gillespie, Philip McNern, Philip Doherty, Pauric Ward, all based in Dublin.

“It’s an indication of the dedication of those men that we meet halfway to train,” McGinley told Donegal Live.

Paddy J McGinley

“Any day you’re in a dressing room with a crowd of Glen men, it feels like a good day. As long as we’re making progress, that’s the most important thing.

“Out of everything, the most encouraging thing is that we’re here, still in the Championship with 50 young men from Glen togged out over two teams, the senior and reserves, representing Naomh Columba.

“We have around 14 of our squad away from home, but they never miss a night and never miss a weekend.

“They are proud Glen men and if they did happen to get over the line, they would really deserve it.”

Naomh Columba face Gaeil Fhánad in the second of this weekend’s IFC semi-finals at Sean MacCumhaill Park on Sunday evening (throw-in 6pm).

Naomh Columba were 3-13 to 0-11 winners over Buncrana on Sunday with Aaron Doherty’s 1-7 and Christopher Byrne’s 2-2 crucial to proceedings.

It was a day when Naomh Columba showed their worth and underlined their credentials as contenders here.

McGinley said: “We started off well. We had good control in the first 20 minutes. We got a wee bit nervous after that. We dropped the pace and when you do that, it’s very hard to move through the gears again. We had good elements all the way through and we’re very happy to have got the win.

“We went into our shell a wee bit before half-time. This team is carrying a wee bit of baggage. We have thrown away leads in games over recent years. That is maybe in the backs of the minds still, but we have to work on that.

“It wasn’t a nip-and-tuck game so we don’t know how much that baggage is still there.  You can train and talk about it, but until it’s put to the test you just don’t know.”

Naomh Columba have knocked on the IFC’s door, but the semi-finals have tripped them up on four previous occasions.

The chemistry between Byrne and Doherty on Sunday offered real promise, although they’ll have to repeat the trick against a Gael Fhánada side that McGinley certainly won’t be taking likely.

He said: “Aaron had an exceptional day inside on Sunday.. He wouldn’t have got on the ball as much, maybe, as people would have expected, but he did everything so well. Christopher has good drive in him and he and Aaron did really well rotating between 11 and 14. There is a lot of unseen work in football now so it would be unfair to identify anyone in particular after an honest display.

“We had a good League campaign. We had one bad performance will the full deck, against Fanad, but we were very happy with the League over the campaign. Fanad were the fittest team that we played all year.”

McGinley is in his fourth stint as Naomh Columba manager having take over from Pauric O’Donnell.

Glen contested six senior finals in the 1990s and were champions in 1990 before losing out in the next five.

Having dropped out of the senior ranks in the mid-noughties, McGinley says it’s ‘vital’ that Pairc na nGael is welcoming back the top teams again soon.

He said: “It’s vitally important. This is about building a squad, but it is vital that we get up to play Division 1 football in the League. That has to be the mark for us. We’re out of the senior championship too long now.

“Nothing happens in Glen that football isn’t mentioned. Football is vital for the community. Every family is involved in the club and every family contributes to the club.”

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