Hugh McFadden out to put record straight on Sunday

Hugh McFadden out to put record straight on Sunday

Donegal midfielder Hugh McFadden has a record to put straight with Tyrone ahead of Sunday’s winner-takes-all showdown in Ballybofey.

That record dates back to the big Killybegs man’s underage playing days with Donegal and especially at U-21 level.

The Red Hands, in 2015, denied Hugh McFadden and Donegal Ulster U-21 silverware. Tyrone won the 2015 U-21 final in Celtic Park, Derry by the minimum on a 1-11 to 0-13 scoreline.

Daniel McNulty landed an injury time free to deny Donegal extra-time. Conor Meyler scored the Tyrone goal in the first half.

“My personal record against Tyrone is so-so. They beat us with the last kick of the game in the Ulster U-21 final at Celtic Park,” said the versatile midfielder.

“They kicked a winner after we missed a few chances to level it up.

“So my record against Tyrone is average enough, but I know Eoghan Bán's group were relatively successful, and they beat them in Ballybofey last year.

“In those years at U-21 it has always been very, very close. Tyrone won the championships in 2016 and 2017, and they beat us in both years, so with that, we're a wee bit behind.

“The older generation of players were very successful against them at the start of the decade and Eoghan Bán’s group were very successful against them. So it's probably 50/50 throughout.

“I suppose you could argue looking back that was the start of a new era of rivalry.

“A lot of the lads that are playing in the Tyrone team now featured strongly in the 2015 final. Lee Brennan, Mark Bradley, Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns, Conor Meyler, Cathal McShane, Padraig Hampsey all played in that final.

We also have a big number of players that have come through from the 2015 and 2016 teams that both lost to Tyrone

“Ryan McHugh, Eoghan Bán Gallagher, Ciaran Thompson and Jamie Brennan along with myself, all now regulars in the senior team were all key players in the 2015 final.

“Conor Morrison, Darach O'Connor, Tony McCleneghan, Stephen McBrearty, Cian Mulligan, Caolan McGonigle were also on the 2015 team and are now in the senior squad too.”

Donegal and Tyrone games in recent years, both at senior and those U-21 games in 2015 and ‘16, have been fairly feisty affairs.

But Hugh McFadden insists all that is in the past and Sunday is the start of a new era with basically two new teams.

“I think the words 'bitter' and 'toxic' have been used previously about Donegal and Tyrone games. But these are two new teams and I think this is the start of a new era, and that's how we're looking at next Sunday.”

Hugh McFadden played at full forward for most of the 2015 U-21 final and kicked five points.

Since that he has moved out the field and after outings at centre half-back the big Killybegs man has developed into a hard working midfielder.

For most of this year that role has been a more defensive midfield one and he has been used in a sweeping role in beside the full-back line; a role not too dissimilar from the one played by Tyrone midfielder Colm Cavanagh.

“I know it sounds like a cliché but I genuinely don't mind where I play as long as I’m on the team. I just try and go out and read what is the best situation for our team.

“I haven't kicked a point from play in the championship this season to date, so there's no point in saying that I got forward too much.

“I suppose throughout my intercounty career, I have been playing all over the field, and with the little few things that I bring to the game, I don't mind where I play.”

Hugh’s heart goes out to his club colleague and friend Eoghan Bán Gallagher, who looks set to miss the game with an elbow injury.

“Eoghan is disappointed, but knowing the nature of the fella, he won't let it get him down for too long.

“He's a hardy bit of stuff and he will come back as strong as he can. He'll be doing everything he can to get back as quickly as possible.”