It’s about an hour after Donegal’s feeble last stand in Division One when a display of defiance finally emerges from their dressingroom.
It has been a chastening afternoon at Dr Hyde Park. But Paddy McBrearty, the team captain who was unable to play because of injury, has come out fighting. Donegal might be on the canvas, but McBrearty insists no fatal blows were landed.
“Well, we’ve been relegated before, this is my third time getting relegated, so it’s not the end of the world,” he says.
“We’re very, very confident going to Newry in four weeks and that’s been our focus since last week.
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“I think if you’re Down as well, you’re looking at Donegal today and you’re thinking that is not going to be the Donegal team that will be playing in Newry, let’s be honest about it.
“We are down a lot of bodies, and we trained really hard on Wednesday and Friday. Our focus has been Newry since last week, so I think if Conor Laverty and Down are looking at Donegal today they’ll know in the back of their heads that’ll it’ll be a different Donegal team that shows up in Newry.”
Paddy Carr’s resignation last Wednesday, prompted after players expressed dissatisfaction at his management, heaped further pressure on the playing group ahead of their trip to Roscommon.
And their 0-21 to 0-9 defeat after a spiritless display has done little to get the Donegal public behind them. There was only a small band of Donegal supporters among the 4,219 at Dr Hyde Park last Sunday.
McBrearty suggests the squad will be circling the wagons now and adopting that trusty ‘us against the world’ approach ahead of their Ulster quarter-final against Down on April 23rd.
“We have to, because as a panel of players we have been through the mill of it this year between injuries and narrow losses and we are going to have to create a siege mentality because there’s a lot of people inside the county that don’t want to see us do well.
“Listen, there are a lot of arrows in the back there, coming from a lot of places. We’re sticking together, media, supporters, they don’t know what goes on in the dressingroom and they never really will either.
“They can speculate all they want but those lads, the 35 lads in there, will stick together; we don’t really care what anyone else says, to be honest with you.”
McBrearty is off crutches since last Monday and his recovery from a hamstring injury is on track, so he hopes to be part of Donegal’s championship plans.
“I’m where I’m scheduled to be, so I’m going alright,” he explains.
And despite the disappointing showing against Roscommon, McBrearty says the mood within the dressingroom is positive and the players remain united.
“I wouldn’t say the team is not together, them boys in there are very much together and have been very much together especially the last week,” he adds.
“Listen, we have big weeks coming up and we are going to Newry and we are really looking forward to that.
“Roscommon are two weeks out from the championship, we are four weeks out, that is very much the Roscommon team that will probably play in the championship.
“I don’t think that is the Donegal team, we’ll have a couple of boys coming back. I can’t fault the lads for effort there, I honestly can’t. W have a couple of big weeks training and we’ll see how that goes.
“It has not been easy, it was a very stressful week for the whole squad, not just myself and the other lads. Listen, it was a messy three days and we got back to training on Wednesday, we had a very good session and we had a very good session on Friday night as well.
“We’re focused on the championship now, the league was behind us from last Sunday when the final whistle went against Mayo, so the boys in there are all talking about Newry in four weeks, that is the focus.”
It remains to be seen who will be in charge for that Down match. Aidan O’Rourke and Paddy Bradley took control for the Roscommon game, but speaking afterwards O’Rourke said it had just been a one game gig to finish out the league programme, adding that no decision had been made regarding the championship.
It all seems quite distracting and uncertain, not exactly the ideal way to be approaching the championship. But McBrearty is having none of it. Is this a tough spot for Donegal to find themselves?
“I don’t know, I think it is good enough place, to be to be honest,” he says.
“It’s a good enough motivation to go to training three or four times a week.”
And so the siege of Donegal begins. The wagons are being circled. Newry awaits the response.