"We haven't lived up to it to be honest. We don't have any excuses really." 4 months ago

"We haven't lived up to it to be honest. We don't have any excuses really."

Having failed to make it out of Ulster in successive seasons, Paddy McBrearty says that Donegal have no excuses and admits that they haven't lived up to the hype that has surrounded them.

It's been a disappointing couple of years for Declan Bonner's men who, having followed up an Ulster final loss in 2020 with an Ulster semi-final loss in 2021, haven't competed in the All-Ireland series since 2019. Over the course of those two years, there was plenty of talk about Donegal and how they could have been the team to dethrone Dublin and to fall at such early hurdles, McBrearty says, has been a huge disappointment for all involved.

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"It's been very frustrating. There's been a lot of talk about Donegal the last few years, people tipping us to challenge Dublin and for All-Irelands and we haven't lived up to it to be honest. We had big hopes coming into this year but things didn't work out on the day for us against Tyrone, we can't keep saying that things didn't work out on the day for us because we don't have any excuses really. We need to get over these big games," the Kilcar man says in a GAA Hour interview with Colm Parkinson.

McBrearty's mind turns to 2018 when, in the first year of the Super 8s championship format, Donegal lost their eight year unbeaten record in Ballybofey in a defeat to Tyrone. Similarly, in 2019, their championship hopes were dashed after another big-game loss, this time to Mayo. Since then, he says, the team have been focused on "winning the big games," but in a knock-out Ulster championship, that's been beyond them.

It wasn't all doom and gloom for McBrearty this year, who can always look back on the sweet stoppage time winner he kicked against Derry in the Ulster quarter-final. It was a point the man himself could have trademarked, having moved in his renowned loop before splitting the posts with one of his first touches of the day.

 

He explained the origin and the technicalities of a move he's now synonymous with.

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"When I lost a yard or two of pace there around three years ago (that's when I started ) Ah, naw, it was just, it just started off in training," he says.

"It’s just something, we just saw a pattern working you know, get lads into your different positions and am,  you know the ball-carrier then acts as kind of a shield between your man or the man-marker and the man receiving the ball. So, it’s been effective you know. Teams, teams can shut it down too. Derry were really good at it against us this year, they had it really well set up but am, yeah, it probably is a wee bit predictable at times. But ah, it’s about getting the mixture right."

"I don’t want to give away too much because, this could be taken up in video-analysis sessions again but yeah, the ball-carrier is important to the whole thing. He can get in the way of you receiving the ball and the man-marking you you know, and he can act as that shield which would be a term in basketball, where you can see in basketball where a three-point shooter might get free because a man is shielding, shielding his marker. So yeah, it’s about not going too early into that position, am delaying it a wee bit..."

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Most importantly of all though, McBrearty, who today celebrates his 28th birthday, explained why, when he's taking a free-kick, he folds up the shorts like Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I saw you tweeting about this Wooly three or four years ago! Ah, it's just a complete habit. When I'm wearing shorts in the house, I walk around with them like that too and when my mother asks what's this about, I don't know, it started when I was fifteen or sixteen. There's nothing to it, I'm not trying to impersonate Ronaldo or anything like that, don't worry!"

You know what they say, look good, feel good, play good.