Patrick McBrearty . . . will play his 100th game for Donegal in first round of Super 8s
In just over a week Patrick McBrearty will play his 100th game for Donegal. Former Donegal corner-forward Manus Boyle takes a look at his career
Declan Bonner, Colm Anthony McFadden, Martin McHugh and Adrian Sweeney, some of the best players ever to play for Donegal, all left sided, brilliant on the ball, taking scores or creating opportunities for others around them and all of them played more than a hundred games for the green and gold.
When Donegal play the first of the Super 8s, Patrick McBrearty will join that elusive club; not just playing a century of games but also like the lads above will be considered one of the best of his generation.
I saw Patrick play at U-14 for Kilcar; then and there you knew that he was going to be a top player. Strong, quick and with a sweet left foot, you knew barring injury or burn-out he was going to be in a Donegal team in the not so distant future.
Jim McGuinness believed so much in him he brought him into the squad as a minor. Considering the talent that was in Jim’s squad at the time, that said a lot of Patrick.
Patrick pictured with his parents Carol and Seamus and the Anglo Celt after Donegal's recent win over Cavan
Picture: Geraldine Diver
I am not that much into stats. I see players run and work like their life depended on it, they are invaluable to any squad, but just like you need the dogs of war, you also need the finishers; you need the players to put the scores on the board.
On his day very few have the equal of Patrick. All of the lads I mentioned above were certainly at the top during their time; barring maybe Colm very few have got near the numbers that Patrick has put up in his first 100 games.
Back in the day when the corner-forward would be taken off for a midfielder or a defender even though the corner-forward might not have seen a ball since the kick around before the game, it has been the likes of Patrick, Bonner and McFadden that have changed that.
Managers and coaches now see how valuable players who get scores have become and have built their teams around them. When Patrick got injured in last year's Ulster final and the news came through about the severity of the injury, our hopes of getting through the Super 8s evaporated before our eyes.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES . . . Patrick pictured on crutches last year before the Super 8 game with Tyrone
Secondly many worried about him ever getting back to the high standards he had set for himself. From talking to others and knowing his commitment, it was never in doubt he would get back and be just as good as ever.
What many might not understand about coming back from serious injury is the amount of fitness work that has to be done on your own. It takes a person of strong character to come through that. Add on that he had to practice frees, shooting for points, practice taking goal chances, again on his own. Why? Because that’s his job, that’s what we have come to expect from him, huge pressure, huge expectations. But players like Patrick get on with it. Why? Because that is what they do, that is what they live for.
I don’t go into these arguments about who was the best or greatest players ever to play the game. The game evolves all the time and the role of positions change all the time, but there are very few out there his equal at this moment in time.