You would go a long way to find a more affable person than Frank McGlynn. Indeed, after spending time in his company, it is difficult to visualise him as a defender in the modern cut-throat game of Gaelic football.
But underneath that genial and welcoming presence is one of the very best Gaelic footballers that Donegal has ever produced.
The National School teacher had to break from the Donegal training camp to look after his class at Stramore NS, Glendowan, who made their First Communion on Saturday, and you can only think that those children are lucky to have a mentor such as Frank McGlynn.
At Donegal Press Nights, McGlynn is ever present, always courteous and available and willing to talk about the upcoming game, probably at times when he would much rather be elsewhere.
Like everyone else, Mc Glynn is looking forward to the big opening game of the championship.
“No matter when it is, the date of the first round of the Ulster championship is the date and venue that you are planning for,” said McGlynn.
“We have known from way back in November/December. The 17th May has been ingrained in both the Tyrone and Donegal players. I suppose when you’re playing at home against your neighbours from up the road, it probably adds that extra bit of pressure.
“But, as we all know, the first round is always a tough game, no matter who you are playing, and they don’t get much tougher than Tyrone.”
The Glenfin man feels that recent good results for Donegal will count for nothing.
“When you look back at recent years we got the better of them in the championship matches. Definitely in those games in 2011 and 2012 they were nip and tuck for the first half. Indeed, Tyrone, at times looked as if they were going to run away with the game in the first half. They still have that potential in their team. They have forwards, if given time and space, could hurt you. It is something we are well aware of us.
“It is up to ourselves to go out and play to the best of our abilities and hopefully that will be good enough to get by them.”
McGlynn doesn’t dwell much on what the bookies are saying about the match.
“I don’t think it will be too much of a burden where the players or management are concerned. I think from experience, league football is league football. Even looking back to 2007 when we won the league, we had a terrible (championship) campaign after that. We are very well aware that league football is just building to championship and it’s what you produce on the 17th May is what really matters.
“We would be strong favourites because of the league game in Ballybofey, but if you scrutinise that game closely a lot of things went our way that day and a lot of things went against Tyrone. We are well aware that if you don’t go out and play to your potential, those things can swing in Tyrone’s favour.
“You know no matter what teams comes out of Tyrone, they are going to ask serious questions. I suppose coupled with the U-21 success, they are going to get a boost with some of those players coming into the panel adding a bit of freshness.
“Indeed, we know ourselves from that league game in Ballybofey, Tyrone would have learned a lot and they may have learned more than Donegal got out of the game. We would be well aware that Tyrone would have been working since that day to the 17th May with a plan.”
With a new management in place for 2015, the All-Star feels that the change over has gone well.
“There have been no wholesale changes. When something’s not broken, there is no need to change too many things. Rory has taken that approach. He’s worked on a few small areas that we definitely can improve on and we have been working on those things through the league. Hopefully, those improvements will be seen come the 17th May.
“We are lucky. Most of the players would have had good experiences with Rory and he would have good experiences with us. He would know our tendencies, our likes and dislikes and any shortcomings in our play, Rory would be well aware of that and is good enough terms with everybody to be able to tell you about those things, and you take it on board.
“He has got great respect from everybody in the panel and I think that has helped him hugely. He has a fantastic captain in Michael Murphy to lead us. Himself, Rory and Gary McDaid and the rest of the backroom team; the changes that have been made, they have been made without any fuss.
The fact that Donegal have a good collection of medals over the last few years is a factor according to McGlynn.
“Those medals do give you confidence at the start of a new campaign. Even the younger lads, they have been competing at a good level at minor and U-21. They are also aiming for Ulster titles and All-Irelands, which is a far cry from the time we entered the panel in 2006 when Ulsters and All-Irelands weren’t really on our minds at that time.
“Whereas any one who comes on to the Donegal panel now has a different mindset; they are on it to win an Ulster title or an All-Ireland.”
Asked what jersey would he like to wear if given his own choice, McGlynn is very clear: “If I had my own choice, I would probable take the No. 5 or 7, in the wing back positions. But with the way football has gone now, you probably play every position in the back six and probably every position in the half-forward line as well at certain times of the game.”
He would also like to be free of man marking duties but realises that will not always be the case.
“I have been asked to do both. My own personal choice as a defender and as a footballer, I would rather be tagged with a man marking job, but it’s a needs must in every game. There is always going to be two or three forwards in the opposition that going to need extra attention. If you look at the Tyrone side, they have some fantastic inside forwards who, if given time and space on any day, could hurt you.”
It doesn’t get any easier, but McGlynn feels that the rewards are the main motivation for keeping going each year.
“Every year you have to think if you are prepared to give the commitment that’s involved. That commitment seems to be going up and up every year. But once you make that decision to commit to the county set up you have to put be willing to put in the work and the gym sessions, training sessions, weekends away or double training sessions at weekend. Once you make that decision, it is a matter of following through.
“I find it a slog every year. It doesn’t really matter if you are getting older or not. At the end of the day, you break it down into periods.
“It does take a good bit of thinking before you make that commitment. In past years when we made that commitment we got the rewards and when you get the rewards it is easier to make the decision to commit.
“Once you have good support at home, it makes it easier,” said Frank.