AS BIRTHDAY PRESENTS go, an All-Ireland quarter-final triumph over Kerry is not a bad way to toast turning 19 years of age.
That was the manner in which Donegal’s attacking star Patrick McBrearty celebrated the personal milestone in Croke Park on Sunday. The Kilcar youngster collected his second Ulster senior medal last month and followed that up by booking a place in the All-Ireland semi-final clash against Cork at the end of this month.
These are positive times for Donegal football and motivated McBrearty’s decision to resist the lure of a career in Australia where AFL clubs had expressed an interest in recruiting his services. Instead he awaits his Leaving Cert results next Wednesday where he hopes to secure enough points to study in NUI Maynooth.
“I sat down with my family a couple of weeks ago and when times are good in Donegal you want to be a part of it. If I can settle myself here and get a good job and another 10 or 12 years of inter-county football and get a name for myself I’d be over the moon. We sat down together and Australia is off the cards for the duration of the coming years.
“There was a couple of offers. If things weren’t good here, if Donegal weren’t winning Ulster championships and not going for All-Irelands my mentality might be somewhere else but fortunately things are good. The recession is the last thing on my mind. The talk about money, it’s the last thing on my mind. I just want to enjoy my football and win as many medals as I possibly can.”
Donegal have not enjoyed great fortune in previous meetings against Cork, losing their quarter-final meetings in 2006 and 2009. McBrearty has memories of both games and is hoping the belief they demonstrated in overturning Kerry will assist them in that clash.
“I played in Croke Park the day after that game in 2006 at half-time of the All-Ireland hurling semi-final when Cork played Waterford. I haven’t lifted a hurley since. I got well shamed out. I remember 2009 as well, we got hammered off the field. We’re not going to get over-hyped after Sunday, we’ve Cork in three weeks time.
“But to be the best you must beat the best and Kerry are one of the top teams in Ireland. When there was a point in it with two or three minutes to go a lot of teams would have thrown in the towel thinking, ‘Jees, this is Kerry – they’re going to bring us down’. But I was thinking to myself that this team has unbelievable belief in themselves. There is no man on this team that doesn’t believe in the gameplan.”
McBrearty was forced off during the game after suffering a blow to his head that necessitated five staples to repair the wound but that will not sideline him for they battle on August 26th.
“Aye, I’d a wee bit of concussion there. The quietest man on the team, Anthony Thompson, hit me. That was the last man I expected to be hitting me. It was just a wee clash of heads and nothing too harmful. I should be alright for three weeks’ time.”
Murph’s Sideline Cut: “Cork steamrollered their way over Kildare and up to the top of pretty much everyone’s list of favourites for the All-Ireland title.”