TIME HAS taught Frank McGlynn some valuable lessons.
McGlynn became an integral part of Donegal’s rise under Jim McGuinness and was one of the key cogs on the wheel on that magical journey.
It wasn’t always that way, though.
McGlynn had a watching brief on the night of McGuinness’s first League game in charge of Donegal. Neil McGee, stationed at full-forward for the closing moments, popped in a late goal to earn Donegal a draw and get McGuinness on the board with a Division Two point.
McGlynn, unused that night in Ballybofey, appeared as a substitute against Tyrone and Meath before an unfortunate injury to Leo McLoone opened the door for the Glenfin man. In he went and, by and large, he’s been there ever since.
An unused substitute in 2006 when Donegal lost the Ulster final to Armagh, this weekend’s joust with Cavan in Clones will be McGlynn’s tenth time to get ready for the province’s big day.
Each one reminds him of the passing of time.
“Every Ulster final you go into, you have to make the most of it,” McGlynn says.
“Even in the build up here are times you have to step back and enjoy them. They don’t happen too often.
“That might sound a bit rich from me, but some young lads are going into their first final. Jason McGee missed out on an Ulster final last year and Eoin McHugh, who has been playing for a number of years, hasn’t got his hands on one yet.
“It’s something that we’re trying to get through to the new players: That you really have to make it count.”
As far back as 2013, and the immediate aftermath All-Ireland quarter-final hammering by Mayo, McGlynn had to reaffirm his commitment to Donegal. The whispers lurked that he was stepping away, but McGuinness, Rory Gallagher and, now, Declan Bonner have convinced him to stay on.
McGlynn made it clear to Bonner that he didn’t want a spiel about long-term plans. He wanted to keep on winning and Donegal have delivered.
He says: “It was a big decision (to stay on the panel). It always is, when you take your personal life, your family and you work commitments.
“It’s a decision that I always made early. I like to do that to move on and give it 100 per cent. If you give it 100 per cent, you can walk away saying that there was nothing else you could give.”
McGlynn has been sprung from the bench in the wins over Fermanagh and Tyrone and is firmly in the shake-up for a spot in Sunday’s team.
A few minutes in his company and it becomes clear that this is a man who certainly isn’t just happy to be a part of the squad.
“My main goal is to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Stephen McMenamin or Paddy McGrath or Eoghan Ban,” he says.
“If you don’t have that attitude, the team won’t get any better. They appreciate that and they expect that. That’s what Declan prides himself on too.
“If fellas are going well in training, they’ll get a jersey and that’s good to know coming to training. You know you’ll get your rewards if you’re going well.
“It’s different for me now, but when you look at the six defenders and the jobs and the performances they’re putting in, it’s understandable.
“As a starting player, you’d always pick out subs, even the likes of Christy Toye in 2011.
“You understand how much of a boost those players can be so when you come into the game, you have a chance to lift the players on the field who might have been finding it tough. You have a chance to make something happen to turn the game in your favour.”
Team-mates who have shared the dressing room with McGlynn talk of an ultra-competitive winner. Second doesn’t rank in his lexicon.
Off the field, McGlynn continues to rise, too. He was recently appointed principal of Drumkeen National School.
He says: “Everything I do, I want to do the best at. Every day I go out, I want to do my best. If things don’t go my way, I’d be sore on myself. I pride myself on going out and doing my absolute best.”
A semi-final win over Tyrone is noted by McGlynn as the biggest win of the last nine years – given where both teams were coming from and, perhaps, going to.
“They were in their pomp going for three-in-a-row,” McGlynn says.
“That was a massive victory for the panel and for the county. We got confidence from that. We take every year as a fresh start and set our own standards and goals.”
In the 2012 final, McGlynn was a goalscorer in Donegal’s win over Down as Donegal retained the Anglo Celt. McGlynn had experienced a Division Two final loss to Louth in 2006, after a replay, and Ulster final defeat to Armagh the same year.
He did, though, taste a League victory with Donegal in 2007, but that quickly became hollow as Tyrone frog-marched them from the Championship.
The arrival of McGuinness turned the tide and Donegal have managed to remain among the top sides in the country. McGlynn’s main aim is to keep them there as they go to meet Cavan, a county appearing in the final for the first time in 18 summers.
McGlynn says: “The belief is in the squad. If we do bring our A game, we’d be hoping to surpass the performance against Tyrone.
“For long spells, we didn’t reach the standards we set ourselves. We’ve set our bar to get up there and hopefully that’ll get us over the line.”Tags: