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Durcan will be back as he strides on from final nightmare

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Paul Durcan will take part in this years great Ethiopian run

Paul Durcan will take part in this years great Ethiopian run

Paul Durcan will take part in this years great Ethiopian run

Paul Durcan's eyes wander beyond the confines of a Croke Park suite in the Hogan Stand towards the Hill 16 end.

It's the Donegal keeper's first return to HQ since the county's ill-fated All-Ireland final and that kick-out which fell into Kieran Donaghy's hands and handed Kerry the initiative that they'd never lose.

"Just looking out it's the first time I've been here (Croke Park) since," Durcan says.

"I just kicked the ground. I was trying to hit it out to the right slightly and I just. . . I've watched it back myself again, and I just kicked the ground and the ball took off at the wrong angle."

He doesn't try to dress it up. Durcan swats away the suggestion that the sun was in his eyes and passes up the chance to blame something, anything else.

His stud skimmed the turf and turned the kick-outs he had made into a fine art into something altogether different.

Donegal has rallied around him since while the media and his fellow players acknowledged his stellar season with an All Star award.

Still, Durcan meets it head on.

"It has been a tough few months. You try and put things in perspective. It's hard the way it went for myself on the day and the mistake I made on the biggest stage possible in my sport," he says.

"I kind of have to live with it and move on and try and enjoy playing football for whatever I have left in my career.

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"I probably did (beat myself up) but I have good support around me with the whole team and Jim (McGuinness) and the back-room staff and my family.

"They took me down to ground and made me realise what was important.

"(The All Star) was nice to get. But I'd swap it for an All-Ireland medal straight away and one for all the rest of the lads in the team.

"It's nice to get recognised as well."

Durcan is ready to recommit to Donegal for another season but first he'll take part in the Great Ethiopian run, a 10km gallop that sees more than 40,000 people take part.

Sponsored by the KN Group, Durcan will run as an ambassador and fundraiser with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM) and visit some of their 26 projects in the country. He'll also get the chance to meet distance running legend Haile Gebrselassie.

And on his return, he'll sit down with Rory Gallagher to plan for life after McGuinness.

And he insists there'll be no return to the day darks such as the heavy defeat to Armagh in Crossmaglen in 2010 before McGuinness took charge.

"I suppose defeat that day probably didn't hit us as hard as it should have," he admits.

"But I can guarantee you that over the last four years, the defeats have taken their full toll. It was the wrong mindset (in 2010) but I don't think it was anything to do with the managers. It was the players.

"Every time I play for Donegal and you get beat, it's very hard to take. But definitely the last four years with the success and the commitment we've put in, it's been a lot harder to take the defeats.

"It was a good four years we had with Jim but Jim is moving on. We've got a new man in now so we're looking forward to the challenge with him.

"It's a good time for Donegal football. There's a lot of lads coming through from minor and U-21.

"The (minors) made the All-Ireland final as well so I can't see it being a problem. . . Rory will do well with us."


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