Brendan McDyer has good and bad memories of county finals against St. Eunan’s and he is keeping his fingers crossed that he is able to play some part on Sunday.
The half-forwards played in his first final in 2005 as an 18-year-old and has been an ever-present for Naomh Conaill ever since.
“The first two is a big thing, but the more experience you get, the more you can pour cold water on it. It’s just like another game and you can do the thinking after it. If you win you can think all winter about it.
“It is just another game. You can make it as big and as important as you want. The less you think about it the better for your own performance,” says McDyer, who picked up a knee injury when the sides met in the group stages in August.
“It was just the last couple of minutes of the game. I was stretching for a ball and just a tackle on the side of my leg and it buckled.
“I never had a serious injury like that before,” said McDyer, who says he has been doing all the right things to get back as quickly as possible.
“Thankfully the boys have been winning and that has given me extra incentive,” says McDyer, who is doing his best to get back in contention.
“You can only do so much. It’s a big restricted really, without aggravating it. I’ve been doing a bit of jogging, in the pool and cycling. There’s not much you can do for a ligament. It has to heal itself,” said Brendan, who said that he was about 60% some 16 days out from the final.
“To be in a county final, in the heat of battle, you would need to be at least 90-95%. I’m hopeful,” said Brendan, who has been working away with the boys in the gym at Davy Brennan Memorial Park.
“The jogging is the last part of the recovery and I have started that.”
However, even if he is ready, McDyer knows that it won’t be easy getting his place back.
“I’ll have a job on my hand getting back in now, especially after the win over Kilcar. Young McGettigan (Eoghan) is a serious operator to have. He has shown up in training. He was involved with the club minors and everyone knows the talent he has.
“In fairness to (Martin) Regan, not every manager would take the chance, especially in a county semi-final. It is the type of manager Regan is; if you’re on form he’ll throw you in and give you a chance,” said Brendan. “In fairness, he had the balls to throw him,” said Brendan, “if you pardon my French!”
The Naomh Conaill man agrees there is recent history between the sides. “They seem to have the upper hand on us most of the times, to be honest. I know we beat them at the start of the year and in the group stages, but when it comes to the business end, they are always there. Them early victories don’t really county for much,” says Brendan, who felt that the conditions were poor when the sides met in the group stages. “Maybe we caught them off guard that day,” says Brendan.
“We were definitely pleased with our performance that day, but it is a different animal we are dealing with now.”
The recent games have been mixed but Brendan is happy with the semi-final performance.
“To be honest we weren’t happy at all after the Termon game. We just wanted to get to the semi-final. We knew the Termon game would be tricky. We were confident against Kilcar. They had a lot of good individuals but we were confident we had the men to mark them. We knew if we kept their main men out of the game we had the strength in other areas to do them damage.
“We got our goals when it counted. To play well and win was nice,” said Brendan, who was hoping for a repeat performance against St. Eunan’s.
“It gives you some confidence that you’ve done it before. Hopefully, we can do it again.”