Throughout his career Johnny Glynn lined out for various clubs at a high level both in Ireland and abroad, winning several trophies. However one of the highlights of his career to this day is triumph in the 1991 FAI Cup with his hometown Club Galway United. Ahead of the FAI Club final on Sunday I was talking to Johnny Glynn as he revisited United’s success 27 years on.
Glynn first signed for United in 1984, at the time he was only 17 and still in school at the Jez in Galway City. In his first season with the club, United reached the 1985 FAI Cup final. “We got to the FAI Cup final in 1985 and we lost, that was my first full year with the club and we lost the FAI Cup Final to Shamrock Rovers 1-0 in Dalymount” Glynn would face Shamrock Rovers again in the cup final years later in 1991.
In 1991 United beat Cobh Rambler and Shelbourne in the first two rounds, but Glynn was missing through injury. Glynn returned for the quarter final as United travelled to Limerick. Glynn and Tommy Keane would score the goals that saw United beat Limerick 2-1 to progress to the semi-final. In the semi-final United faced St James’ Gate in Tolka Park. Glynn and Keane were on the score sheet once again as United triumphed 3-0 and progressed to the FAI Cup final where they would face Shamrock Rover once again.
On the day of the cup final Glynn nervous but United prepared well for the battle ahead. “I was actually a bit nervous in the morning, and a bit cranky. Before we went to Dublin, we met in Eyre Square, we got the bus from there. We went to the Aisling Hotel and had a pre-match meal and a meeting, we went straight from there to Lansdowne Road.”
Heading into the match Rovers were heavily favoured, however the match didn’t quite pan out like that. “I suppose we went in to match as under-dogs, Shamrock Rovers were really fancied. It was a fairly even game I would think. I wouldn’t say I played great but I got a chance with 4 minutes to go, on the 86th minute Tommy Keane put a lovely ball in. I met it at the near post and scored with my right foot – I’m left footed by the way. The rest is history after that.”
Glynn has won several trophies throughout his career and graced the stage of European football, however winning the FAI Cup with his hometown Club remains a special moment for Glynn. “Oh god ya, sure it was a special moment. I went to every game as a kid, I went to every Galway United match. I used to live in Newcastle, up in Green Fields, and I used to cycle to watch Galway United every Sunday afternoon, the matches used to be on a Sunday, so it was a dream come true.”
Earlier in his career Glynn spent a season playing in the United States, when he went there on a scholarship after finishing school. “America was different, I was very young, that was 1986, I went to Boston University on a scholarship and I had a great season there but I didn’t like America so I came home and signed back for Galway United.”
“I gave him my passport and signed the forms. When he looked at my passport he said ‘you’re 29’ and he changed his mind because he thought I was 23.”
As well as Galway United, Glynn played for a number of clubs in Ireland including St Patricks Athletic. During his time at St Pats Glynn faced Slovan Bratislava in Europe. “We played them at home first and were beaten 4-3, I had a really good game, then we went over there and lost 2-0.” Glynn left his mark on Slovan Bratislava over the course of the two legged tie, and didn’t get unnoticed. “When I came home they contacted Pat’s and the chairman came over to sign me. I was in College in Limerick at the time so I went up to Dublin to meet him, I had to bring my passport, so I gave him my passport and signed the forms. When he looked at my passport he said ‘you’re 29’ and he changed his mind because he thought I was 23. So that’s why the deal fell apart.”
“It’s a very remote place, Norway, you don’t meet anyone you know.”
After finishing college Glynn made the move from St Pats to Norway. He went over for trials and signed for a club called FK Housesond. It was a mixed experience for him but one he greatly benefited from. “It was very different and I wouldn’t say I loved it, it’s a very remote place, Norway, you don’t meet anyone you know. So I found it to be a very different experience but it really helped my game. I was training every day and I really enjoyed it.”
Since calling a day on his playing career Glynn has been involved with both senior management and under-age coaching, Glynn has been involved with both senior management and underage coaching. Currently he is involved with the Galway United underage set-up and he spoke very positively about it. “It’s been very good, I’m just coming from a meeting in Dublin with the FAI now actually. There’s an awful lot of work to be done but I think I have good targets set for the club and myself for things to get done in the club so that we have the best young players coming through to Galway United. We have a coaching academy now with 120 boys in it. So there’s a lot of good things going on even though we had a bad season at senior level this year”.
Before he became involved with the coaching of United’s underage teams Glynn spent seven years as manager of Mervue United. During his time at Mervue he saw his side narrowly defeated in the First Division play-off final. He also developed many quality players at the club such as Pat Hoban, Rory Gaffney, Conor O’Malley, Ryan Manning, and many others. It was a very different experience compared to his current role but one from which he greatly benefitted and learned a lot.
“Colin Kelly has had an unbelievable season, he’s really developed as a footballer under Alan Murphy.”
When asked which players from United’s underage set up particularly impressed him, Glynn gave a glowing appraisal of United’s youth teams from as young as under 13 all the way up to the under 19s. “We have some very good players, very young. You wouldn’t even know them yet but I have high hopes for them, down to 12 and 13 years of age”. From the under 15 team one player in particular who impressed him was Jack McCarthy. He also spoke very highly of under 17 player Colin Kelly, who made his senior debut at the tail end of the 2018 season. “Colin Kelly has had an unbelievable season, he’s really developed as a footballer under Alan Murphy. Glynn mentioned a number of players from the under 19 team to keep an eye on, including- Wilson Waweru, Gary Matthews, Josh Quinlivan, and Ronan Asgari.
On the back of a very poor season there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding United’s senior team. Glynn denied having any interest in taking over the team as manager for the foreseeable future, however, didn’t completely rule it out for the future. “It’s not something that I’m thinking about right now, but who knows what would happen in the future. I’m happy doing what I am doing for now”.
He did, however, offer advice on what United need to do to improve on an abysmal year heading into the 2019 season, he emphasised how important it is that United have a good off-season. “The thing with the First Division is that if you get off to a bad start it’s hard to recover. So I think that the pre-season programme and the players, the players that go, all that stuff is going to be important to get the culture right. Every player needs to be dying to put on the jersey. However, if Alan Murphy is going to be the manager, I’m sure he’ll have a fair idea what he’s looking for in terms of the character of the people he wants to sign- it’ll be very important”. Glynn also highlighted the importance of getting the character and attitude right in the team, something which the current United side has been questioned about.
Finally, Glynn gave his prediction for the FAI Cup Final between Cork City and Dundalk on Sunday, going for a Cork victory on penalties.