Conor Glass has been watching footage of Brian Fenton as he bids to make a smooth transition from Australian Rules back to GAA.
It was Derry boss Rory Gallagher’s idea, and one that Glass embraced following his return from Hawthorn 14 months ago.
“I hadn’t really watched that much footage of Brian Fenton over the years,” said Glass, who helped his club, Glen to their first Derry Senior Championship 11 days ago.
“Rory Gallagher was actually the one who told me to watch out for him.
“Watch his vision. Watch his games, and that’s literally what I did – just model my game on him. And whatever he does well, try and implement it in my game.”
Glass – like Fenton – is a box to box midfielder, which takes a bit of doing on a pitch the size of a GAA field with no lengthy breathers or interchange replacements.
“He (Fenton) gets a lot of turnovers but he hits the scoreboard a lot as well,” says Glass.
“He has that fitness base of getting up and down the pitch. He is obviously a very versatile player.
“I have similar physical attributes to him. The more times I can get up and down the pitch, whether it is to create turnovers or get on the scoreboard, I will do.
“It has obviously worked for him in the past and he has been Footballer of the Year, so he is obviously doing very well.
“But hopefully in the next couple of years I will be playing against him at some stage.”
One thing Glass doesn’t miss about his time ‘Down Under’ was some of the commentary directed at him as a young Irish player in the AFL.
Tyrone All-Ireland winner, Conor McKenna made the same point, particularly in relation to an alleged Covid breach which made headlines across the Australian media a year and a half ago.
“(I’m) absolutely better for the experience (playing AFL),” says Glass. “Going through tougher times has made me who I am today.
“I’m obviously not engrossed in social media, and don’t take other people’s opinions to heart, especially boys that don’t really understand much about football. It’s normally just trolls and stuff on social media.
“I’m in a better place for it and any education I can pass on to any Gaelic players, or anyone really, about that sort of stuff I’ll do so
“It (online criticism and abuse) would be worse in Australia because it’s a professional sport and they literally live and breathe the professional environment.
“Because it’s your full-time job, that’s when they’ll scrutinise you about.
“We got more abuse because we’re Irish and they’re probably a bit jealous they didn’t make it to that level, whereas we’re coming from a completely different sport.
“You get the trolls.
“It wasn’t our fault, them coming over and scouting us. You’ve just got to deal with it, it’s always going to come in sport.”
Glass says the transition to life away from professional sport was “difficult at the beginning,” but he’s got on top of it.
He explains: “As a professional athlete, you get spoon fed a lot of things.
“They’ll have your breakfast, lunch, all that sorted. I love sport, so you can focus fully on sport.
“Whereas now, you have