Although Donegal’s first Allianz League Division One semi-final appearance in some eight years ended in defeat to Cork, for Anthony Thompson it was almost the Second Coming of his inter-county career.
The Naomh Conaill defender, who debuted in the championship under Brian McIver as far back as 2006, hadn’t been in from the off since last September’s All-Ireland final loss to Kerry.
Since then, Thompson has relocated to London, living in Stratford near the site of the 2012 Olympics and works for M&E Engineering - a Co Down based construction firm - at Westminster.
When Donegal were blowing off the cobwebs in the Dr McKenna Cup as Rory Gallagher was manning the touchline having taken over as manager, Thompson’s name was frequently mentioned in the bobble-hatted post-match interviews. Thompson didn’t rush into any decision but was made feel welcome by Gallagher.
“I had to see if Rory wanted me first of all and then if it was possible,” Thompson said yesterday.
“It’s a big enough commitment for me at the weekend because you don’t have a weekend. You’re flying home on Saturday early and are back Sunday night. I don’t mind it and am happy to do it. I enjoy playing for Donegal and will keep it going as long as Rory wants me.”
Thompson admits he’s get to train under Gallagher and his backroom team of Jack Cooney, Maxi Curran and Gary McDaid. But it’s now five years ago since Jim McGuinness, who was then county U-21 manager, entrusted his clubmate Thompson to train the Galway-based panellists.
McGuinness used to travel to Dublin to put those based in the capital through their paces as Peter McGinley ran the rule over those at home.
Thompson will now show similar diligence as he continues the lonely forage ahead of Donegal’s Ulster SFC preliminary round tie against Tyrone in Ballybofey on May 17.
“It’s not ideal but it’s the best I can do at the minute,” he added. “I do a good bit of ball work and running and will be stepping it up now in the next couple of weeks.
“I’ve not trained with the boys. I suppose a lot hasn’t changed over the last few years so it’s still along the same lines, the way we play. I still know the way we need to play and what I need to do myself. It’s obviously better to be training with the team but it’s not possible at the minute.
“It’s a different lead-up to the championship over there. It would be a lot easier.
“I might be avoiding a few phonecalls! I don’t do too much with the press so it wouldn’t affect me so much anyway. I still want to play county football when I still have the opportunity. A few years down the line that won’t be possible.”