AS HE FORGED a lonely path back to full fitness during the winter months, Patrick McBrearty had his mind set on the big stage.
McBrearty was withdrawn in the opening minutes of the second half in last year’s Ulster final.
A day after helping Donegal to collect the Anglo Celt via a win over Fermanagh in Clones, McBrearty had the diagnosis confirmed. A ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ended the Kilcar man’s season.
Last month, he was back in the Donegal side for the win over Fermanagh.
On Saturday, McBrearty popped three points in the semi-final win over Tyrone as Donegal booked a place in the 2019 final.
“No doubt, I probably had this game earmarked more than any,” McBrearty said.
“That was always my goal, these things are always in the back of your mind when you are in the gym different days.
“I had 11 months to prepare for this game, it didn’t go to plan in the first half and things opened up in the second half so I’m delighted.
“It’s a stage like that that I craved to be back for. Things open up, they come so it’s all about being patient.”
As a 17-year-old, McBrearty was thrust into senior championship action by Jim McGuinness. He’s only 25, but McBrearty will play in his eighth Ulster final this year and is gunning for a fifth title.
He said: “A lot of us are going for our fifth Ulster title so it’s probably something we only dreamed of when we started off in 2011. They are sweeter with everyone one you get, so we are looking forward to it and we know it is going to be tough.”
After three successive losses to Tyrone in the Championship, Donegal were underdogs heading into Saturday’s game. Tyrone had been in the All-Ireland final last year, but McBrearty feels the pre-match odds did a disservice to Donegal.
“I don’t think we got the respect we deserved throughout the country,” he said.
“If you look at it from the outside Tyrone were in the All-Ireland final last year, they beat us last year in the league and the championship so probably any favourite tag on them was justified.
“But we knew what we had within our dressing room there and the talent we have, and if we put on a good performance we would be on the right side of the result.”
After a superb performance over Tyrone, Donegal will be heavy favourites for Sunday-week’s final against Cavan, but McBrearty insists that their eyes aren’t gazing beyond the decider.
He said: “Cavan were a Division 1 team this year so we’ll not go into it with our eyes on the Super 8’s anyway.
“We’ll have a favourite tag on us surely, but it’s all about us keeping grounded.
“We’ll have to analyse this game and get back training hard for the Ulster final.
“When we started out at the start of the year the target is to win an Ulster title. People from the outside might not think it’s a big deal, but for the players here it’s a massive deal for us so we are looking forward to getting back at it.”Tags: