Jimmy back winning matches as his team show required hunger and no lack of bite
Jim McGuinness celebrates a score at Ballybofey yesterday. Photograph: Inpho/Russell Pritchard
Almost exactly two years after making his senior championship debut on the same pitch while still a minor, Paddy McBrearty was in upbeat mood yesterday after an emphatic win over Tyrone had maintained his 100 per cent run in the Ulster championship.
He was able to reflect on a fine personal performance, having scored two points and provided the assists for both of Donegal’s goals.
“Colm [McFadden] just gave me a shout and I saw him from the corner of my eye. I got a good connection on it to flick it towards where he was. Thankfully it went to Colm, but Colm still had the majority of work to do after that because it was a tight angle. Thankfully he put it in the net.
“It was a good ball by, I think, Rory Kavanagh. It was a forward’s ball so the defenders couldn’t do much about it. Thankfully Ross was in the right place at the right time to put it in the net.”
McBrearty was doubly happy in that the display and the victory also helped distance him from the controversy over the alleged bite he sustained in the league match with Dublin last month, which ended with the case against Dublin corner back Kevin O’Brien being deemed “not proven”.
“It was obviously difficult,” said McBrearty. “It was a bit head-melting, but I had under-21 championship and club football to focus on and thankfully I had that to block out all the media hype about that. It’s completely gone.”
For Tyrone manager Mickey Harte the qualifier route has twice led to All-Ireland victory but there was a sense this time around that the county wanted to announce a revived challenge in championship.
“We had good chances to take scores and we didn’t take them and when you have the upper hand and don’t take your chances it generally comes back to bite you and it came back to bite us today. That’s what happened us today and that is why we are in the qualifiers.”
He said that he felt his side has lost confidence in the final quarter.
“I’d say they did. In the final analysis we did tend to look like it was a lost cause because they had got that second goal and things were going well for them.
“We had then to try for a goal ourselves and to try for a goal against the defensive set-up Donegal have isn’t a very profitable exercise.”
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, back winning matches, expressed satisfaction at how his team had commenced the campaign to win a third successive Connacht and retain the All-Ireland.
“They threw everything at us. Tyrone had the lion’s share of possession in the middle of the park for long periods. Ross Wherity and Martin McElhinney going in opened up the pitch and turned the game for us.
“It was a very tough battle. When you’re in a battle like that, most of the time it can go either way and we’re delighted that we’ve come out on the right side of it.”
He had the personal satisfaction of having sprung replacements who made an impact, including first-choice players Karl Lacey and Mark McHugh whose fitness hadn’t been quite 70 minutes’ worth.
“I wanted to finish with the strongest team and I wanted to finish with the quality on the pitch that could see the game out. It turned out that way. We had really good decision-makers on the pitch in the last 20 minutes. That took us over the line.”