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Tough days pushing Donegal to go extra mile - Brennan

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Donegal’s Jamie Brennan looks ahead to this weekend’s Allianz NFL clash with Galway while taking in the scenery at Donegal Harbour. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Donegal’s Jamie Brennan looks ahead to this weekend’s Allianz NFL clash with Galway while taking in the scenery at Donegal Harbour. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Donegal’s Jamie Brennan looks ahead to this weekend’s Allianz NFL clash with Galway while taking in the scenery at Donegal Harbour. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

With Donegal having been perennial challengers over the past decade, it perhaps seems odd that it is consistency they crave beneath the Bluestacks.

Yet, on a crisp February Monday, with Donegal Bay a calm blue backdrop, it is consistency that Jamie Brennan explains Donegal have been missing.

Donegal have been in eight of the last nine Ulster finals. In that period, they've won five titles - half of the county's total haul.

In the league, Donegal have been in Division 1 for nine of the last 13 campaigns, but Brennan wants Donegal to avoid relegation battles and establish themselves as a regular Division 1 side.

"It has probably felt like a yo-yo experience and one of the aims at the start of the year was to just try and stay consistent in Division 1," Brennan says.

Playing

"You have to be playing top teams and that is the way you have to be playing year-on-year.

"You can't really take any steps back in Division 1. It is a clean slate week-on-week and it was nice getting the two points against Meath after bouncing back last week (draw against Mayo) when it felt like a loss the way the thing finished up. It is really important to stay consistent and try and push on this week to lay a platform to really attack this Sunday."

Brennan's debut year with the Donegal seniors in 2017 saw Donegal fail to reach an Ulster final for the first time since 2010. The year ended with a championship hammering to Galway and the Bundoran man being substituted before half-time.

When 2018 began with relegation to Division 2, many felt that Donegal's bubble had burst. And while Declan Bonner's men have won the last two Ulster titles and are back in the top flight at the first time of asking, it is the dark memories that appear to be the wind in their sails.

Brennan says: "There are plenty of tough days you will remember and you grit the teeth to make sure they don't happen again.

"That will definitely push us on. There are a couple ones that come to mind, Tyrone in Ballybofey, and that one against Mayo too. They plant the seeds that you don't want to be in that situation again."

Brennan was an All-Star nominee in 2019, owing to superb early-year form which he carried into the Ulster Championship, scoring a goal in last year's Ulster final win over Cavan.

Brennan came up the underage ranks under Bonner's watch, netting in the 2014 All-Ireland minor final loss to Kerry.

In the absence of Patrick McBrearty and Oisín Gallen, Brennan has a lead role in the Tír Chonaill attack.

He says: "On a personal level, I'm happy to get into the positions. I want to influence the play and be a threat. I'm not too worried as long as I'm getting there. It would be more worrying if I wasn't in those positions."

Brennan was on form on Sunday, when Donegal defeated Meath in Navan, for only a sixth away win in Division 1 in 30 games going back to 2008.

Galway are next up this weekend in Letterkenny - a venue that hasn't been kind to Donegal in that period.

"I wouldn't pay too much heed to that," Brennan says. "There is a lot of talk about it. On the day we need to be performing… two years ago we played Galway and we just didn't perform in Letterkenny.

"I just think it is a lazy sort of excuse to be blaming the pitch. It is really important to get the two points on the board and in this division you can see it is going to be a dogfight."

Irish Independent