Rossies star aiming to Shine on final day
BERNARD Brogan's off-key performance last Sunday proved that even the mightiest are fallible, and Roscommon's shooting ace Donie Shine also knows all about the vicissitudes of life in the scoring spotlight.
The towering 22-year-old was the hero of the hour last summer, carried aloft after kicking 0-10 (6f, 1 '45'), including the 69th-minute winner, in a memorable Connacht final victory over Sligo.
While all around him were losing their heads in the frenetic late minutes, Shine appeared to have ice in his veins.
Yet three months ago, when Roscommon were back in another final, he suffered that hero-to-zero drop familiar to many strikers, having an unusually bad day at the office against arch-rivals Longford in the Division 4 league final.
He suffered the rare experience of being called ashore early and scoreless in Croke Park, just four days before Roscommon jetted off to New York for a Connacht championship opener which many felt was already preoccupying them.
A week later Shine racked up four points from play in his 0-6 in the Big Apple before being taken off early with a facial injury, and last time out, against Leitrim, he scored 1-1, including a particularly timely goal.
So how did he recover his confidence so quickly from that chastening afternoon in Croke Park?
"It's not something I worry about too much," Shine admits. "It's important to stay positive and not be over-thinking things. It's just kicking a ball at the end of the day," he adds with a grin.
"I take the frees, and some days they just don't go so well, but you've put yourself in a position to take them so you just have to take the bad days with the good ones.
"It can be a big responsibility alright but you just have to stay positive and not be thinking negative thoughts during your set-up, and when you're kicking them.
"There's going to be big crowds around and if you're going to be nervous that's no good."
As an All-Ireland minor winner in 2006, and a Connacht senior and U-21 winner last year, he's well used to the crowds and Sunday's Connacht final in 'the Hyde' will be another cauldron.
Mayo's only injury worry is Ronan McGarrity while Roscommon are officially reporting a clean bill of health -- though it is rumoured that Shine is carrying a slight knock.
Even if he is, Fergal O'Donnell's side are not solely dependent on his shooting -- far from it.
They had seven scorers against Leitrim and Senan Kilbride offers them another big target man up front who can also help out with the frees.
But, when Shine is in the groove he is metronomic and one of a rare breed of modern players who still takes frees off the ground.
"Everyone has the ability to do it," he stressed. "It's whether they practise it or try it. Kerry's Bryan Sheehan is very good off the ground and I think it's easier to be accurate off it. Everyone could do it if they practised enough."
Shine's father Donie Snr was himself an inter-county star who helped instil in him the need to develop both feet, but he confesses that it was a Kerry legend that was his greatest role model.
"I always looked up to Maurice Fitzgerald as someone I tried to be like," he reveals.
"I remember watching him in action in the '97 All-Ireland final, scoring frees with his left foot, two off the ground -- all the great players seem to be able to use both feet. Colm Cooper is the same."
His football education has undoubtedly been furthered by studying in DCU, where he won a Sigerson Cup medal last year.
His college housemates have been a mix of top-class inter-county players including Donegal's Michael Murphy, Dublin's Paul Flynn, Westmeath's Kieran Gavin and Roscommon team-mate David Keenan.
Shine graduated with a business degree this summer and, like a lot of people, he is anxiously job-hunting but football -- in particular retaining the Connacht title -- is his big priority this week.