Friday 20 April 2018

McBrearty shooting for the stars as he commits to Donegal cause

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Paddy McBrearty was 19 on Sunday -- he shares the same birthday as Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.

And for McBrearty, being part of a Donegal team to beat Kerry in their first championship meeting represents his own journey into orbit.

With ambitions that this journey can continue, the youngest member of the team has confirmed that another potential voyage is off the agenda.

McBrearty has been a keen target of a number of AFL clubs since fulfilling all the relevant criteria at the Tadhg Kennelly-hosted camp in the National Basketball Arena last February.

In April, he confirmed that he was interested in pursuing a career as a professional sportsman if the opportunity arose, but he has since had a change of heart on the back of Donegal's success.

In the wake of last Sunday's success, he piled on the good news by confirming that he had rejected recent offers in order to concentrate on forging a career with Donegal.

"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," he said.

"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."

McBrearty hopes to do teaching and has his eye on a third-level place in Maynooth as he awaits his Leaving Cert results later this month. On the back of Michael Murphy's rejection of Australian overtures in recent years, there is the potential for Donegal to establish an even stronger base in the future.

Medals, not money, is what the young man says is driving him.

"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 goo," he said.

"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."

The belief in what they do and how they do it manifested in those closing minutes last Sunday when Kerry came at Donegal with a spirited late rally. "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, 'this is Kerry, they're going to bring us down'.

"But I was thinking to myself that this team has unbelievable belief in themselves and I don't think there is anyone who can say we don't have belief.

"There is no man on this team that doesn't believe in the game plan. We stuck to our guns and thankfully came out with the right result."

The victory underlines how serious their credentials are and that they hadn't just exploited the perceived paucity of the Ulster championship.

"It's definitely not a weak Ulster championship. People were asking who did we beat on the way, but it's the same for every team -- who did every other team beat?

"It's irrelevant who we beat. We beat whoever was put in front of us. We can't change the fixtures. The Ulster championship is definitely in a good place in my view."

McBrearty acknowledges that Donegal are playing with far greater liberty this season, but belief in the system is even stronger.

"I think every man is involved in every play. It's not defence, it's attack. There are a lot of lads involved in the attack now because we may have been isolated in the forward line last year.

"But this year there are plenty of bodies up there and if you receive the ball you can give it off to another man. There is more freedom there."

Nothing reflected that more, he feels, than the insurance point from Karl Lacey.

"I think that was the belief in the team. Boys committed forward and they didn't hold back against a very good Kerry team. Karl took a gamble, the ball broke, he ran on to it and thankfully the right man got onto it at the right time."

McBrearty was forced off for treatment in the first half after a collision with colleague Anthony Thompson left him slightly concussed, but he was able to play on.

"I'd a wee bit of concussion there. The quietest man on the team 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," he confirmed.

Irish Independent

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