Paddy McBrearty hopeful about Donegal's future
By Cian O'Connell
The promise of the 2017 spring was replaced by pain in the summer. Heavy Championship defeats to Tyrone and Galway left Donegal reflecting on what might have been.
A new year has arrived, though, with Declan Bonner returning to take charge of the Donegal senior team.
Bonner, who has carried out impressive work at minor and Under 21 level for much of the past decade, is well placed to keep Donegal relevant according to Paddy McBrearty.
"Success breeds success, and I suppose Declan too knows who he's dealing with, and they know who they're dealing with in Declan," McBrearty says about the emerging talent in Donegal.
"I think it's going to be a fairly smooth transition. Declan, too, won an All-Ireland in 1992. There's a lot of respect from the older players towards him too."
Donegal have been forced to deal with a raft of high profile retirements in recent years. "Myself, I was there when we won the All-Ireland, and you see a lot of new faces there now," McBrearty admits.
"There definitely is a big change there. But your job stays the same. The young lads that came in, they're down-to-earth. They put in the hard yards too.
"It's going to take a bit of time for them, to integrate. They've had success at minor and Under 21 level, and probably see themselves as just slotting in at inter-county football. It's going to take some time, but I've all the faith in the world in them."
McBrearty acknowledges the disappointment of 2017 and is hopeful that Donegal can summon an instant response. “I think it was something we need to put behind us to be honest,” McBrearty adds.
“The only positive is that a couple of young lads got a bit of championship experience, but it probably wasn't the kind of experience they would have wanted. But hopefully that drives them on for the coming summer.
“It was going to be hard. We've lost so many bodies from the team that won the All-Ireland. It was always going to be a struggle to be honest.
“We had a very good League campaign. I suppose people were talking us up. We just hit a wall against Tyrone, we didn't really recover from that. Galway really caught us on the hop then in Sligo last year, and that was the end of our summer really.”
An away clash against Kerry in Killarney is first on the Allianz League agenda for Donegal.