Monday 15 July 2019

'Economical' Donegal star in the hunt for an All Star after sensational start to the summer

Jamie Brennan of Donegal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Donegal and Tyrone at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Jamie Brennan of Donegal celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Ulster GAA Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Donegal and Tyrone at Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

John Morley

Donegal forward Jamie Brennan again asserted his presence as a marquee forward in his county's four-point Ulster final victory over Cavan, with odds of 3/1 for the young gun to land an All-Star this season looking increasingly good value.

Brennan was involved with the panel last year when they failed to reach the last four of the All-Ireland series, but Irish Independent GAA reporter Michael Verney believes the young forward adds the necessary potency to bring Declan Bonner's side one step further this season.

"Jamie Brennan has to be one of the most economical kickers in the history of Gaelic football because he doesn't require a back-swing," said Verney on The Throw-In podcast in association with Bord Gáis Energy.

"Most people take a back-swing and their leg will follow through and up around their shoulder. He just takes this tiny little back-swing and is still able to generate the force needed from anywhere inside 30 or 40 yards. He's absolutely flying."

Verney believes that Brennan could be the missing link for Donegal this season, as his scoring prowess allows Michael Murphy to produce further out the field and diverts attention away from Padddy McBrearty in the full-forward line.

"They needed a couple of lads to step up. He was there last year, had an impact, but he's having a massive impact this year throughout all of their games," he said.

"It means when they go playing teams [the opposition] aren't just looking at Murphy, or McBrearty. They have to be looking at three or four forwards and make sure they're not leaving some of the big hitters like [Ciaran] Thompson and [Michael] Langan with long shots from forty or fifty yards as well."

Verney applauded Donegal's back-room team and believes that because they aren't in a Super 8s group with Dublin, they have a great chance of making an All-Ireland semi-final.

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"Everyone seems to be lauding [Stephen Rochford's] influence. He seems to be going around collecting cones after which is great to see. It's obviously someone that has no idea of his importance," said Verney.

"The Super 8s is a little different now, they're not going to be playing Dublin in Croke Park like they were last year in the first game so I'd be surprised if they weren't in an All-Ireland semi-final, and the way things are going they'd fancy their chances if they got into a position to get a crack at Dublin."

Irish Independent GAA reporter Donnchadh Boyle agreed that Donegal were in prime position to take on the Dubs, but had concerns over their ability to replicate the damage they did on the Cavan kick-out against better opposition.

"They're not going to have the joy on Stephen Cluxton that they had on Raymond Galligan. They really went after him and put him under pressure," said Boyle.

"He lost seven of their eighteen in the opening half. That's low retention, you'd probably want to be getting at least another four, five, six of them anyway. There's a good chance Cluxton will only give you one or two in a match."

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