Christopher McFadden believes that Gaoth Dobhair’s SFC win last Sunday will finally silence their critics.
So many questions were asked of the Magheragallon men over the last 12 years as to why they were unable to once again scale that Dr. Maguire mountain.
33-year-old McFadden is one of the few survivors from Gaoth Dobhair’s last championship win back in 2006. He admits that the last decade or so of failure hasn’t been good enough for a club with Gaoth Dobhair’s pedigree.
He told the Donegal Democrat: “Going back to 2006, I was still just a young fella. I think I was 21. You probably take it for granted. You expect them to come in threes and fours. But nothing followed. But we’re back here now. The parish of Gaoth Dobhair have been waiting for this for so long.
“We know we haven’t been good enough but all that’s changed now after this.”
The influx of a superb group of young and decorated footballers has made a huge difference to what Gaoth Dobhair now bring to the table. Spliced between experienced campaigners like McFadden, Kevin Cassidy and Neil and Eamon McGee; what Mervyn O’Donnell now has at his disposal is a panel that possesses panache, pace and real power.
It’s that potent mixture which completely overwhelmed the rest of the runners in this season’s Donegal club championship race.
“They’ve been a breath of fresh air for the club,” McFadden said on the cluster of cubs that have made such an impressive jump to senior football over the last two seasons. “Some of us older heads; it was only so far we could bring the thing. They’ve made a huge difference. To win anything you need legs. Believe me, the way football has gone you need lads that can motor.
“Going down the stretch there, with 15 minutes to go, back a few years ago we probably would have let that kind of advantage slip. But look at how the young lads drove it all on. There was chance after chance. We did concede a late goal, yes. But did it faze them, not one bit.
“That’s the big difference this season.”
McFadden, or ‘Ginger’ as he is known to his teammates, is now into his 13th season in the senior ranks for Gaoth Dobhair. He is adamant that failure simply wasn’t an option ahead of last weekend’s decider against Naomh Conaill.
He explains: “I came in in 2005. It doesn’t get any easier. No word of a lie. Before we came out onto this pitch we had a good word between ourselves. We had to win today. There really was no other option. If we didn’t win today, then who knows what route we’d have gone down?
“People were asking, ‘do Gaoth Dobhair have it?’ We’d questions to answer. But flip it. Those young lads, none of them have ever lost a final. I think that showed today.”
Given the manner in which they’ve disposed of all comers in 2018 domestically, Gaoth Dobhair’s name is unavoidably up there now that talk has turned to the Ulster club. McFadden doesn’t shy away from the question.
Donegal sides’ record in the competition is poor to say the least. But there is no doubt that Gaoth Dobhair have the personnel to give it a serious rattle.
“We haven’t talked about Ulster once this term,” he said. “How could we? People had us as favourites for the championship but we’d no call to be taken in by that kind of talk. But now, of course we have to look at it.
“We have pace, we have power. We have a good blend of youth and experience. But our young lads are experienced also. That’s a big thing for us. We’ll definitely be looking to give it a good shot. But the celebrations of this has to come first. That’s what we’re looking forward to at this moment.”