Donegal star McBrearty relishing developing Kerry rivalry
Published 08/03/2016 | 02:30
An August Sunday in 2012 changed it all. That was the evening Donegal and Kerry went from being friends to foes as Karl Lacey's late point, and a Colm McFadden goal saw Donegal through to an All-Ireland semi-final.
A few months earlier, Kerry defeated Donegal 2-16 to 1-8 in a League game in Killarney.
That September, the same 15 Donegal men vanquished at Fitzgerald Stadium overcame Mayo in the All-Ireland final.
"We went down there in 2012 and it was all very jovial," Rory Gallagher, the Donegal manager, said last week. "They kicked us off the field and we were great fellas heading up the road."
Sunday's fractious clash in Tralee was proof, if it were needed, that these teams are now on very different wavelengths.
"It was definitely the most high profile game in terms of that type of physicality," says Donegal forward Patrick McBrearty. "There was a good deal of physicality to it, but it was just two teams going at it. There is a big rivalry developing there between Donegal and Kerry.
"We were going down there with six points and wanted the win. Their backs were to the wall and needed to win. Every day we go out, we don't lie down. Things probably did look out of hand to spectators."
Donegal still haven't won on Kerry soil since November 1988 when a misplaced Pat Spillane pass gifted Donegal a goal, scored by Brian Murray. What has grated Donegal more than anything since Sunday is how they missed a chance to get their noses in front.
McBrearty drew them level five minutes into the second half, but Peter Crowley's goal had Kerry back in the driving seat. Even though Michael Murphy struck a goal to give Donegal hope, Kerry took the win.
McBrearty says: "Yeah, it was a tough game, but it was a tougher result. When we got back to seven-each, we should have kicked on because we had them rattled.
"We switched off for the goal and we couldn't get back after that. It was a tough loss.
"We'll learn a lot from the game. That's a big thing. Bryan Sheehan kicked eight frees so we can't be giving that kind of calibre of free taker those kind of opportunities."
Donegal began their campaign with wins over Down, Cork and Mayo. Sunday's defeat hasn't derailed their ambitions of making a Division 1 semi-final.
Ahead of Sunday's game against Roscommon, McBrearty said: "If you'd given us this situation before the League we'd have taken it. If we win this weekend we'd be in a League semi-final which would be good for us. It's the place to be because you're meeting the teams you'd be meeting in the Championship. There is nothing between these teams."