Jamie Brennan excited about Donegal's future
By Cian O'Connell
Following the dramatic late draw on the opening weekend Donegal’s brief was simple at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday: two points needed to be deposited in the Allianz Football League account.
That mission was accomplished so Jamie Brennan was hugely satisfied with Donegal’s response following Mayo’s late exploits eight days previously in Ballybofey.
“I think that was the big one, to just lay down the foundations because we did do a lot of things well against Mayo,” Brennan reflects.
“Probably the point was our own fault, but to get the two points was a bounce back performance. We didn't create too many goal chances against Mayo so it was nice to do that against Meath. Thankfully we took them.”
Brennan most certainly played his part in Donegal registering a 10 point triumph in Navan acknowledging how vital it is to register positive results early in the competition.
“The way things went in the first game it probably felt a bit like a loss,” Brennan admits. “We performed well in patches so it was nice, and while things weren't ideal on Sunday we definitely played more consistently. The goals were really the platform which helped us attack the game.
“It is an absolute dogfight the way things are. Three points is top of the League and I think there is only one team with no points. So it really is important.
“We said we would try to target the first three games to get as much points on the board as possible. In that we have two home games, this will be another one on Sunday.”
Galway make the long journey to Letterkenny for what promises to be an interesting encounter with Brennan accepting that another Donegal success would leave them in a very healthy position.
“That is true, but Galway will be coming chomping at the bit, especially after the result against Kerry,” Brennan replies.
“They were dominant for most of the game, a bit like us they got a late sucker punch. They will be raring to go trying to get two points off us.”
Excited about the potential in the Donegal ranks, Brennan is adamant that the depth of Declan Bonner’s panel is developing nicely.
“I suppose that is the building, there has been talk of a transition period for the last couple of years,” Brennan remarks. “Some of us players have now been in the squad for a good few years and that gives new players a chance to develop.
“You have the likes of Peadar Mogan, who has come on there, Michael Langan is playing great stuff. We've unearthed another good find in Conor O'Donnell, Niall O'Donnel's older brother.
“He is playing really and is starting to find his feet at inter-county level. He has been excellent in the last four games that he has played.”
During the past decade Donegal’s record in the underage ranks has improved with Brennan stressing that is a factor also.
“I think that 2012 and 2014 was a real boost for Donegal in terms of GAA,” Brennan says about two campaigns in which Donegal reached All Ireland senior finals.
“There was a real bite for players to follow in the footsteps of some of these players, to try to lead by example. I definitely think it is coming to fruition now.
“Even a lot of the players on our team were on the minor panel when the seniors lost in the All Ireland final (2014).
“I'd say we kept on 11 or 12 from that panel. Trying to hold on to these players for as long as possible is what it is about and I think they are doing a really good job in Donegal trying to hold on to them.”
Being exposed to high quality action and occasions in Croke Park exposed the emerging players to top level sport.
“Yeah, it gives you a bite and a platform,” Brennan adds. “You aren't a million miles away from it all, especially at that age.
“When we won Ulster that year we got to be in and around the seniors, you sort of got that vibe. It was really beneficial and it spurred a lot of players on.”
Brennan watched and learned throughout that summer six years ago. Establishing himself as key figure in the Donegal set-up shows how far Brennan has travelled. That journey continues.