Licence to roam suits McGlynn fine
Donegal star admits progress this season has been fuelled by a collective hunger, KEITH DUGGANreports
FRANK McGLYNN is the perfect embodiment of the deep-running attacking game which has helped to carry Donegal to Sunday’s All-Ireland final. It wasn’t just the perfectly-timed goal in the Ulster final against Down or that famously stylish point when he nonchalantly curled a left-footed shot over the Cork crossbar. It is the fact the sight of McGlynn coming like a torpedo into the last third of the pitch has now become common place. And the Glenfin man can’t disguise the fact he loves the licence to roam.
“Last year we had a successful campaign but chances to get forward were few and far between. I only came out from corner back the odd time. But lucky enough pushing out to the half-back line for periods this year has given us more opportunities. And the team as a whole is getting forward and we are scoring more. I think I had popped over the odd point in the league before but this was my first championship score. I play half back all the time with the club. At underage I would have been half forward or even full forward . . . I seem to be going back all the time.”
McGlynn has been such a conspicuous element of the Donegal framework that it is easy to forget he is one of the more experienced members of the panel. This is his seventh championship season so he is well versed in the years when the team was unable to win a game in Ulster and in the punishing experience of 2009, when the northwesterners were humiliated in their quarter-final against Cork.
For the newer members of the squad like Mark McHugh and Paddy Campbell, life in senior colours has been largely about winning and positive experience. But McGlynn can appreciate just how far the squad has travelled. Even in the worst of times, Donegal seemed to have a surfeit of fast, adaptable peripheral defenders and McGlynn was usually terrific at holding his own patch. But Donegal’s evolving style of play, with a fresh emphasis on breaking at speed, has given him the chance to exhibit an attacking instinct that dates back to his underage years in the game. He says now that conversations on what the team would have to do to improve their scoring ratio began shortly after their loss to Dublin in last year’s semi-final.
“I do think we were back within weeks. We had a bit of a talk about what went wrong against Dublin and what we could improve on. When you score six points in an All-Ireland semi-final, it was going to have to improve and we have done that. Anyway you win is a good way . . . no matter what way you reach a final, you will be happy.”
Stories of the gruelling training hours accumulated by the Donegal men began to circulate this spring. The stories are probably more frightening than the sessions but they have propelled the notion Donegal “can’t last”: that their conditioning can only achieve short time gain followed by burn-out. McGlynn shrugs at the notion. “If you buy into that theory, you will trick yourself into thinking that. Jim (McGuinness) and Rory (Gallagher) are very aware we have to be kept fresh as well even though we have a lot of work done since January. So they have us well looked after.