At the start of this season few supporters across the county would have thought that Shaun Patton would be the starting keeper for the Donegal senior side.
Patton had spent the past few seasons playing in the League of Ireland, featuring for Sligo Rovers last year. At the beginning of 2018 he took the call from Declan Bonner and decided to commit for the county panel.
This came despite the fact that Patton hadn’t played a game for St Eunan’s since 2014. Many expected that he would be the second choice to Mark Anthony McGinley but injuries to the St Michael’s man gave Patton a first chance.
Since then Patton has taken the opportunity with both hands. His performances so far this year have gained lots of approval and attention across the country.
In particular Donegal’s restarts this year have been praised, with Patton regularly finding his range.
“I’m trying personally to keep percentages as high as possible. I’m thankful for the boys that are working hard for the team,” Patton said after Sunday’s game.
The goal tender went on to admit that it was vital for his side to remain in control of the game on Sunday and continue to put pressure on Derry.
“It’s a game of two half’s we couldn’t come out thinking the game was won, we came out to kick as many scores as possible and to keep pushing on.
“It’s about keeping the concentration and the focus and trying to kick on from there.
“We came in with a mentality needing to beat what’s ahead of us, we didn’t come in with our heads thinking we were favourites.
“We just need to beat whatever is in front of us and perform at the highest level possible.”
Patton was finding success with both his long and short kick-outs during the game. Similarities were made with a kick-out strategy that destroyed Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final in 2014 when Patton delivered a kick right down the middle of Celtic Park which Hugh McFadden fisted on.
In the space of about four seconds Donegal went from having a kick-out on their thirteen to Ryan McHugh bearing down on goal. Unfortunately McHugh’s effort was stopped by Ben McKinless in the Derry goal, but much credit had to go to Patton for starting the attack.
“It’s not something that’s been worked on but its something that was sort of ‘off the kuff’, I realised on the day that I was connecting well with the ball and it nearly ended up with a goal.”
Patton admitted that his willing teammates are as important to the success of kick-outs as he is.
“It makes my job so much easier than what it is. You have the big players across the middle and you have the committed runners that are making space for me and making it so much easier to find a man.”
Derry stopped pushing up on kick-outs as the game wore on but Patton was modest in what he thought was the reasoning for this.
“I think it came down to a sense that they knew if we got a kick-out away that they would be exposed and they tried to set up to stop that after a while which is understandable.
“There was times when they tried to make it difficult and pushed on and I was forced to go long, but I was happy with the way the day went,” Patton concluded.Tags: