Two Donegal supporters have embarked on a marathon journey from Australia to make it back to see their heroes in action against Dublin this Sunday at Croke Park.
Pat O’Donnell and Charles Boyle originally from the Rosses, currently reside in Brisbane, Australia.
When it was announced that Donegal would face Dublin the pair decided to book flights straight away and get back for the big match.
Last week the pair embarked on the mammoth 16,738km journey to be back in the Hills of Donegal for this Sunday’s crunch clash with Dublin at Croke Park.
While bookmakers and the majority of GAA pundits make Dublin hot favourites, both Pat and Charles are confident Donegal can defeat Dublin and book their place in next month’s All-Ireland final.
Charles told Donegal Daily, “Dublin are the only big scalp that Donegal haven’t defeated since Jim took over, we’ve beaten Mayo, Cork, Kerry, Tyrone, Monaghan and Kildare but Dublin are the one top side we haven’t beaten.
“We’ve obviously only played them once, and that was in 2011, but we were unlucky that day, and then in 2012 we obviously never got to meet them on our way to All-Ireland success.
For many Donegal fans the only slight on Jim McGuinness’s glowing CV is that elusive victory over the Dubs.
There’s nothing quite as sweet as beating the Dubs in their own backyard.
Pat said the thought of missing out on seeing the Dubs toppled at Croke Park by Donegal was the main factor in returning.
“Me and Charles were both at Croke Park in 2011 and it was a stomach churning defeat, before the match there wasn’t a Dub in sight, then after all you could see and hear was thousands of them singing Summer In Dublin.
“I’d have loved it if we had played them in 2012, that would have been the icing on the cake had we played them in the final that year, we would’ve beaten them, there was no stopping us that year.
While both Pat and Charles admit Dublin are a top class side they both genuinely believe Donegal can overcome them on Sunday.
Charles said, “They’re a fantastic team, there’s no doubting that, but I genuinely think we’re capable of beating them.
“If you take last year out of it, we’ve only lost one championship match under Jim in three years and that was against Dublin, I really think we can cause an upset.
“We’re the underdogs, but we’ve won three Ulster titles and one All-Ireland, this team has experienced a lot of success.
“I also think the odds being offered on us are disrespectful, but I’m sure it will only motivate the players further to turn them over.
Joe Brolly recalled in his column a few months back that Donegal had gotten under the skin of some Dublin players, with Bernard Brogan telling him had Donegal faced Dublin in the All-Ireland final instead of Mayo in 2012 they wouldn’t have won.
Dublin are keen to prove a point, and show that their swashbuckling style of play that has won them so many admirers, won’t come shuddering to a standstill against the blanket defence of Donegal.
It’s why the game promises to be such an intriguing and fascinating match, two very contrasting styles of play meeting each other head on.
The game is an official sell out and 82,300 people will fill Croke Park on Sunday.
However, it’s very doubtful anyone else among the capacity crowd has travelled further than Pat O’Donnell and Charles Boyle to be at the game.
They like the rest of us are daring to dream, and they believe Donegal can do it.
They’ve only booked a one-way ticket, why?
Pat said, “We’ve booked a one-way ticket because if we do win, like I think we will, we’ll be sticking around for the All-Ireland final.
Now that’s a positive attitude!!
Well done lads.
Tir Chonaill Abú.