Glennon makes his mark
May 27, 2005
When Paidi O Se handed Denis Glennon his Westmeath senior debut against Louth in an O'Byrne Cup game in January 2004, few could have foreseen the huge impression he would make in the months that followed.
A virtual un-known outside his native Tyrrellspass at the start of 2004, Denis Glennon emerged as one of the brightest prospects in Gaelic football during an unforgettable summer for Westmeath football.
Despite being overlooked for the Young Player of the Year award last November, most GAA followers would acknowledge that Glennon was the 'Find of 2004'. His performances at full forward belied his tender years and were central to Westmeath's historic Leinster championship success.
"It was an unbelievable year," reflects the 20-year-old who, as well as being short-listed for the Young Player of the Year award, was nominated for an All-Star award and was also one of three stand-by players to the Irish International Rules squad.
"Even though I had played a lot of underage football with the county, the senior set-up was very different. Paidi O Se started me in his first game in charge against Louth and thankfully I managed to hold down a regular starting place after that.
"To have been a part of the first Westmeath team to win a Leinster title was a dream come true, especially as it was my first year. But I think it was no more than we deserved because the effort that went into winning it was something else."
A tall, skilful player blessed with lightning pace, Glennon chipped in with vital scores in the championship wins over Offaly, Dublin and Wexford, but it was his five-point haul against Laois in the drawn Leinster final which really capitulated him into the big thing. The Tyrrellspass youngster wasn't as prominent in the replay, but he still played a leading part in the breakthrough win.
Glennon looks set to be an even more important player for Westmeath in this year's championship, having started the season with a flourish. His younger brother David has joined him on the senior panel and is also tipped for great things.
"David came on as a sub in our first league game against Offaly and, a bit like myself last year, will be hoping to prove what he's capable of. He's a good man to get you a score and should add to our attacking options. With the likes of David and Paddy Mulvihill being added to the panel, there will be fierce competition for places in the forward line and that can only be a good thing," he says.
While Denis didn't enjoy the same level of success at club level in 2004, he feels Tyrrellspass surpassed expectations by pushing Garrycastle all the way in their senior championship semi-final.
"It was a big improvement on the previous year when we needed to beat St. Mary's to retain our senior status," he points out.
"It was a good campaign overall and it was certainly no disgrace to lose to Garrycastle after extra-time. If we had Martin Flanagan, I think we would have beaten them."
Despite the absence of Flanagan, Mark Staunton, Barry Murphy, John O'Brien and Adrian Corcoran from their starting line-up, the Tidy Town had opened their championship campaign with a 1-9 to 0-8 victory over the eventual champions. Garrycastle held a 0-5 to 0-4 lead at the interval, but the turning point came 18 minutes into the second half when the ageless John Corcoran netted a penalty to put Tyrrellspass on the road to a surprise win.
The navy and sky blues suffered their only defeat of the group stage when they succumbed to Mullingar Shamrocks by 0-7 to 0-4 in their second outing. On a horrible evening for football in Castletown-Geoghegan, Tyrrellspass led until the closing stages when Shamrocks scored four points without reply to take the spoils.
Tyrrellspass put that disappointment behind them when they defeated Tubberclair by 1-10 to 0-8 at Moate. Despite a missed penalty by Corcoran in the 14th minute, they led by seven points at the interval thanks to a goal from Ray Sheeran. And although Tubberclair reduced the leeway to four points midway through the second half, a late point from David Glennon sealed Tyrrellspass' second win.
Frank Ryan's charges continued their winning ways a week later when they saw off the challenge of Moate All-Whites on a 3-9 to 1-10 scoreline. Goals from David Glennon and John Corcoran had them 2-6 to 0-5 in front at half-time and, despite a mini revival from Moate after the restart, Corcoran eventually put the result beyond doubt when scoring his second goal in the 45th minute.
A fourth win at St. Malachy's expense saw Tyrrellspass finish top of their group and qualify automatically for the semi-final. An upset looked to be on the cards when Malachy's took a 0-6 to 0-4 lead into the interval, but with Corcoran and David Glennon cutting loose in the second half, the Tidy Town eased to a 0-16 to 0-9 victory.
The semi-final pitted Tyrrellspass against Garrycastle in what was a repeat of the 2001 county final. And despite a gallant effort by Frank Ryan's side, the outcome was the same with the Athlone outfit claiming a 0-15 to 0-13 win after extra-time.
In a cracking contest, Tyrrellspass looked to have done enough when Ray Sheeran's point gave them a 0-12 to 0-11 lead with two minutes of normal time remaining. But Garrycastle simply refused to wilt and after David O'Shaughnessy was fouled in midfield, Dessie Dolan's free dropped into the danger zone where substitute Robbie Fox collected possession and kicked the equalizer to force extra-time.
In the additional 20 minutes, Garrycastle's greater experience came to the fore as they outscored Tyrrellspass by 0-3 to 0-1 to clinch their place in the decider.
Glennon took a great deal of encouragement from Tyrrellspass' performances last year and expects them to make a serious bid for Flanagan Cup honours this season.
"The fact that we were only a kick of a ball away from beating Garrycastle last year gives us a lot of confidence for this year. There is a nice blend of youth and experience in our team and I honestly believe that we are good enough to win the championship this year.
"The likes of John O'Brien, John Hyland, David Murphy and John Corcoran bring huge experience to the team, but you have a lot of young talent as well. The return of Martin Flanagan is also a big boost - he was a huge loss to both club and county last year."
Tyrrellspass' current well-being at underage level is reflected in the club's appearance in the under 21 'premier' championship semi-final which they lost to Mullingar Shamrocks by a point. The club also provided the backbone to the Clann Braonain team which lost the minor 'premier' championship final to St. Finian's after a replay.
This year Tyrrellspass will be managed by Pat Flanagan, who guided Kilbeggan Shamrocks to an intermediate championship success in 2000 and his native Clara to an Offaly senior title in 2003.
"Pat had great success with Kilbeggan and Clara and we're hoping he can make a similar impact with ourselves. We've had a few lean years, but I'm convinced that we are ready to challenge for a county title again," Denis concludes.
The Tyrrellspass team which lost last year's SFC semi-final to Garrycastle was: John Hyland; Tommy Newman, John O'Brien, Philip Sheridan; Shane Arthur, David Murphy, Alan Rigney; Adrian Corcoran, Denis Glennon; Gavin Hoey, Cathal Daly, Ray Sheeran; Niall Seery, John Corcoran, David Glennon. Subs used: TJ Gonoud, Ronan Dunbar, Declan Feery and Dermot Bradley.
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