Wednesday 21 August 2019

McFadden's focus on Super 8s challenge

Donegal's Hugh McFadden. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donegal's Hugh McFadden. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

When Donegal won the Ulster title for the second time in two years, Hugh McFadden reveals they had no hesitation in celebrating it.

Donegal are one of the front-runners for Sam Maguire, but for McFadden context is everything and Donegal's history insists that Ulster titles are not to be sniffed at.

"We recognise that in our whole history in Donegal up until 2011 we delivered five Anglo Celts. Some of the elder statesman in our team have already delivered five and we see that it's a bit of a golden period in Ulster," says McFadden.

"To be part of two winning teams, it's a prestigious place and brought some great celebrations."

Donegal have swept all before them this year. The return to fitness of Paddy McBrearty and the form of Jamie Brennan, allied with the athleticism and skill that already existed in the team, has pushed Donegal into the 'number one contender' spot behind Dublin in most people's eyes.

However, it's a title McFadden brushes off.

"There's a lot of football to be played before we're even in the position to play Dublin. We're just focused on (Meath), to get our performance up to beat them, we'll be happy enough."

Over the winter, Declan Bonner pulled off something of a coup when convincing Stephen Rochford to join his coaching team, while also retaining the services of Karl Lacey.

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"Declan deserves a lot of credit for inviting someone of Stephen's calibre into our set-up. He is coming from a strong background in coaching and management given his successes with Corofin and Mayo, and regardless of what anyone says Mayo have been the second best team in Ireland for a very long time and the team that actually put Dublin to the pin of their collar.

"Some of their performances have been heroic and to have someone involved in that it can provide us with useful information to make us better. We are lucky to have Karl Lacey, Gary Boyle, Paul McGonigle, and Declan deserves credit for bringing that together."

Donegal head back to the Super 8s for the second year in a row and the Meath team they beat in the Division 2 final this year come to Ballybofey on Sunday fresh from their win over Clare.

And McFadden feels they never got going in the last eight 12 months ago.

"I suppose last year we were coming off the back of a very disappointing 2017 season, where we were badly beaten by Galway. I don't think we ever hid away from that, the pain of that defeat hung around for a long winter.

"Last year's Ulster, we would put it up there along with the rest, but we went into the Super 8s away to Dublin in the first game. That stifled our momentum and it came down to that big game against Tyrone in MacCumhaill Park.

"This year we were lucky enough to beat Tyrone and that gave us the platform to go on and win Ulster.

"There is a big confidence in the group, but I think enough have been around the group long enough and have had enough dark days to recognise that there is a lot of football yet to be played this summer."

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