Leaving Cert pressures won't stop McBrearty facing Derry
Teenage star Patrick McBrearty will line out for Donegal in their Ulster quarter-final against Derry on June 16 despite being immersed in his Leaving Cert over the next three weeks.
Cork hurlers let Conor Lehane sit out a few key games last summer due to his studies, and new boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy looks set to do the same with midfield find Darren Sweetnam for the Rebels' Munster SHC semi-final against the winners of Tipperary v Limerick on June 24.
McBrearty (18) lined out for Donegal against Cavan last Sunday despite training only once in the previous week, and manager Jim McGuinness has no worries about him returning straight from his exams into the heat of an Ulster quarter-final.
"Patrick trained with us last Wednesday night for only an hour because he's in the middle of preparations for his Leaving Cert and he'll be straight into that now," McGuinness said of the Kilcar prodigy.
"It will be the same for the Derry match: he doesn't wrap up (his exams) until the Friday so it's very difficult for him but we're aware of that.
"I thought he did very well for a man who's not being coached at the moment.
"He's not au fait with what we're looking for.
"It's more about talking to Patrick and trying to get it clear in his own head when he gets out on the field as opposed to working with him on the training pitch, but that is the situation we are in."
Like Michael Murphy before him, McBrearty joined the Donegal senior panel last year when he was just a 17-year-old, and he does not turn 19 until August.
Yet he didn't disappoint when given his Ulster SFC debut against Cavan last June, scoring 1-3 on his first day out, and the schoolboy has been a key part of Donegal's attack since.
The defending Ulster champions are also expected to have forward star Murphy back against Derry as he is expected to return to squad training at the end of this week.
The totemic forward missed out last weekend because of a lateral knee ligament injury suffered against Dublin during the Allianz League but McGuiness revealed that he has been training hard on his own and is ready to make his comeback this week.
"Michael's a very driven man and he has to be held back for his own benefit," he said.
"He's back jogging on it and he'll start integrating with us towards the end of this week and maybe do a bit of contact at the weekend and then he'll have three weeks' run-in to the next game."
Donegal are hopful that Eamonn McGee and Christy Toye will also be back in time for the Derry game.