A week after completing his Leaving Cert, Patrick McBrearty puts his 100% record in Ulster Championship football on
the line again on Saturday evening next in Clones.
It’s hard to believe that the Kilcar man is still only 18 years of age but has firmly established himself on the Donegal senior team.
Twelve months ago, he made light of his first senior championship appearance in Clones, in playing his part in defeating Tyrone in the semi-final.
“We would have definitely learned a lot from last year’s game against Tyrone. I remember walking into the dressing room in Clones last year and walking past Sean Cavanagh and Owen Mulligan. These were the boys I was watching playing Gaelic football when I was 10 or 11 years of age and boys I looked up to. These were boys who had won All-Ireland medals and to play against them and get the win against them last year was unbelievable.
“Now having them again this year is even better and hopefully we can win again and get into another Ulster final for the second year in-a-row.
“I suppose playing against them last year I didn’t know what to expect. Hopefully I will have benefited from that and gained some experience which can benefit the team in some shape or form,” says Patrick.
He jokes that himself and Jim McGuinness are the only two with 100 Ulster records - Patrick as a player and Jim as a manager. McBrearty has now played six Ulster championship games, winning all six.
But despite his youth, McBrearty has matured greatly in his first year involved at senior level. His club form recently is probably the best of any forward in the county at the moment, hitting big tallies on a regular basis.
His scoring record at county level has not reached those heights, but his ability to win 50-50 ball has been vital in both games so far. Indeed McBrearty has been involved in all three goals Donegal have scored in the championship, winning the penalty in Cavan and setting up both against Derry.
“As long as I’m helping the team, I’m happy. I didn’t score against Cavan, but I was very happy with my overall performance.
“You have Colm McFadden there, who will do the bulk of the scoring anyway. He’s an experience man and I’m just happy to make a contribution.”
McBrearty was very unlucky not to get his own goal against Derry, turning his marker near the end but was denied by an upright for what would have been a spectacular goal.
“I would probably go for the same side and the same technique again. But that’s the way things go some times. Hopefully, if the same happens against Tyrone, the result will be better,” said Patrick, who said it didn’t even come off the post correctly for him.
Patrick agrees that the Donegal display against Derry was impressive but doesn’t think the county has reached its peak.
“I suppose we were all very happy but there are always things that you can improve on in every aspect of your game. We are very happy with the way things are leading into the Tyrone game.”
His preparation for the first two games in Ulster were interrupted by the Leaving Cert with the Kilcar man only training once a week with the county panel, but the interruption seems to have had a positive rather than a negative effect.
“I have probably been playing the best football of my life for the club during the Leaving Cert and it probably helped that my mind was not on football. But I’m back training now and football is my No. 1 focus now.”
While, like every forward, he gets enjoyment from finding the range, his focus is on giving his best for the team.
“I’m lucky to have Colm (McFadden) and Michael (Murphy) inside with me. They are probably two of the best players around and I’m happy to work hard. People were saying I should have gone for the goal myself (against Derry) but looking back, giving it to Colm was the right thing to do. I was playing the better percentage game in giving it to Colm,” said Patrick.