Jamie Brennan, Donegal’s livewire corner-forward, feels it is time the younger players in the squad to step up to the mark.
The young Realt Na Mara star, who is expected to feature in the number 13 shirt on Sunday against Down, feels it is no longer good enough to rely on the older players to pull them through and out of tight corners.
“I wouldn't say I'm established, but I feel it's time that the younger lads stepped up to the mark,” said Brennan, who admitted his first instinct when he wins possession is take on the man.
“There's been a lot of excuses over the last few years about young lads, and the likes of Michael (Murphy), Frank (McGlynn), and Neil (McGee) have been carrying Donegal so it's time for the younger lads to really take up the challenge.
“There's a fierce amount of young lads from our Under 21 team on the panel, and the onus is on ourselves now to bring it to the next level because we want to be winning Ulster Championships and pushing on.
“We have had underage success and we are trying to progress that on so we can take it to the next level and be real competitors, year in, year out.
“There is a good few young players coming through now. Cian Mulligan scoring two goals after coming on in the last two games and Ciaran McGinley is going well in training and coming in so there is good competition for places which is good and keeps you on your toes.”
After being on the fringes of the team since coming out of minor football this is Jamie Brennan’s first season where he looks forward to getting a first 15 jersey on a regular basis.
Nimble footed and with the pace of a Gazelle, Jamie was always seen as light and slight. The speed and the pace of the Gazelle may still be there but Jamie is no longer light and slight.
After a winter in the gym the chest has expanded a couple of inches and the biceps are now bulging.
The new look Jamie Brennan has the look of man that could take care of himself in any corner or tight situation.
“You have fend for yourself in that corner, so you do.
“It is pre-season gym work. We start in October. It is like an on pitch session we have to give it everything. People sometimes slacked off in that part but it is just as important.
“When I joined the squad first, I was a light fella but after a few sessions being marked by Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee I soon learned that you have to fend for yourself and do something about it and the gym was the only answer.”
Jamie limped out of the Derry game in the closing seconds but he is fine again and good to go if he gets the nod on Sunday.
“I just seized up. I did my hamstring but it is not as bad as expected. I have been training away since.”
Jamie scored two points against Cavan in the preliminary round and one the last day against Derry.
He is happy enough with his own form though he does feel there is still room for improvement.
“My form is not too bad but I would like to be performing better in the championship matches so hopefully it is just a matter of time before it comes right for me.”
Jamie Brennan has that X factor about him that the likes of James McCartan or Mickey Linden of Down or from the current crop of unique forwards, James O’Donoghue of Kerry, has.
All those players create a gasp of expectation when they win possession and head for goals. They create a sense that something is going to happen.
Jamie Brennan has that ability, too; maybe not to the same level as McCartan and Linden had and O’Donoghue still has, but you also sense that it is only a matter of time before he cuts loose and creates that trimmer that sends shivers up the back of defenders.
Could this Sunday against Down be the day? He likes playing on St Tiernach Park’s wide open spaces. Why not?