Donegal star Michael Murphy tells JOE what his GAA club means to him
From being created just over 30 years ago, to county champions, Glenswilly’s success has meant a huge amount to Michael Murphy and the local community.
For many rural clubs, the presence of a large town nearby can be a galvinising force, a help rather than a hindrance. That’s certainly the case for Glenswilly, who are based near Letterkenny.
Founded in 1982, the club has thrived on the border of such a big town, and the club’s most famous face, Donegal star Michael Murphy, is fiercely proud of what his club has achieved.
County finalists in 2007, just a few years after making the senior grade, Glenswilly won the title in 2011 (post-match celebrations with Barry Canning and Neil Gallagher above), a remarkable achievement.
“I think maybe 2007 came a bit too early for the club,” says Michael. “We just weren’t ready but thankfully we got our chance again.
“In 2007 it was massive. It was bedlam. You were going to mass together, eating together, it got out of proportion. The media build-up was huge as we were playing St Michael’s and a lot of us weren’t really ready for that. But we learned from it and it paid off in 2011 (see the highlights, including a cracking goal by Murphy, below).
And for a club like Glenswilly, a success like that is huge in terms of helping to grow.
“It’s a cliché about a bit of success helping underage but it definitely helped us. We have much bigger numbers now. We have under 6 and under 8 teams, which we never had before, and loads of parents are getting involved. Success encourages everyone to get involved and take part.”
Michael’s first time at the club was when he was six, just after he started in Glenswilly National School, the other focal point of the village.
“We all went down from the school, and began playing with the Under 10s with all your friends from your class. Just learning the skills of the game.”
And, like so many others, it was family that really brought Michael into the club. Michael’s father Mick, originally from Mayo, moved to the area and he became involved in Glenswilly. From there, Michael followed suit.
“We went and followed the senior team to all their games - my father was playing for them then – and we would spend Sundays kicking balls up and down the sidelines. My father trains teams now, including my own all the way up, and in every club families keep them going.”
An All-Ireland winner with Donegal last year, and a Sigerson Cup winner with DCU, Michael has achieved a lot of success in his Gaelic football career, but like others we have spoken to, club success is special.
“You’re playing with your best friends, and while county teams are getting more like clubs because you spend so much time together, your club is always where your home is, where your heart is.
“The club is always where it will be and it has to be for the ethos of the GAA to work. The club is the most important thing.”
We couldn't put it any better ourselves.