How Brennan became a real Donegal goal threat

Pictured is Jamie Brennan of Donegal with his award at PwC Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile.

When you run your finger to scrape off the dust on Donegal’s season, the turning point for many would be Michael Murphy’s first introduction of the campaign eight minutes before half-time when Armagh visited Ballybofey in March.

On a night when the uprights on the goalposts wobbled in the wind and rain, the captain’s cameo, with the sides locked at 0-3 apiece, laid the foundations for a 1-9 to 0-11 win. From there, Donegal overcame Cork, Kildare and then Meath at Croke Park to win Division 2 before overcoming Fermanagh, Tyrone and the Cavan to lift the Anglo-Celt Cup, confirming them as Ulster champions for the second year in a row.

Another thing that happened since that night was the emergence of Jamie Brennan as their goalscorer-in-chief. The Bundoran forward hadn’t found the net in 2019, evening seeing Tipperary goalkeeper Michael O’Reilly save his penalty in their previous outing — a surprise 3-9 to 0-13 loss in Thurles — but since then Brennan has been on a hot streak.

Brennan has been a goalscorer in all but one of those games and alongside Murphy and then Patrick McBreaty, who returned from an ACL injury that meant 10 months on the sidelines, Donegal have a dynamic cutting edge heading into the Super 8s.

Brennan, yesterday named GAA/GPA Player of the Month for June, is content to learn from the 2012 All-Ireland winners, whom he enjoying staying back after training with for shooting practice.

“Things were rocky for me when I had the penalty saved against Tipperary,” Brennan admits. “We lost the game, but that drives you to improve. The likes of Michael and Patrick are always out doing extra kicking and I just wanted to be at their levels.

“My weaker aspect was striking the ball so I’d have looked a lot at the likes of Michael and Conor McManus and how they connect with the ball.

I got into good spaces but didn’t have the composure to take the goal. I tried to work on that. Until I came into the set-up, I didn’t realise the amount of extra work you’d have to do. The extra work is a stepping stone to the success.

McBrearty noted in the wake of the 1-24 to 2-16 Ulster final success over Cavan last month that the Donegal panel watched the recording back of their victory over the same side in the 2018 championship and one thing that stuck in his mind was the bulking in Brennan’s physique.

One of Brennan’s trump cards is his speed and having completed is degree in Human Nutrition at Sligo Institute of Technology is aware of the balancing act required between pace and power, knocking his head together with Donegal S&C coaches Paul Fisher and Aaron Kyles.

“That’s part and parcel of it. A lot of time is spent developing the body for contact. With Paul and Aaron, we’re doing great work in bulking up and injury prevention.

“I came in very light, maybe 68 or 70kgs. I wasn’t having much of the gym, but once they showed me the mechanics and the science, maybe I’ve actually gained a bit of pace.”

More on this topic

Ger Cunningham: 'Flaky' is harsh but Cork have no excuses leftGer Cunningham: 'Flaky' is harsh but Cork have no excuses left

Hurling podcast: The Cork inquest: no excuses this time. Cody the firefighter. Tipp try gegenpressingHurling podcast: The Cork inquest: no excuses this time. Cody the firefighter. Tipp try gegenpressing

Quirke's Football Podcast: Killarney picnic zone not war zone. Gavin bombshell. Two questions for CorkQuirke's Football Podcast: Killarney picnic zone not war zone. Gavin bombshell. Two questions for Cork

Patrick Horgan's 3-10 leads the way for scoring feats in defeatsPatrick Horgan's 3-10 leads the way for scoring feats in defeats

More in this Section

5 of the most memorable Wimbledon finals5 of the most memorable Wimbledon finals

Gerrard eager to raise the standards at RangersGerrard eager to raise the standards at Rangers

Novak Djokovic wins fifth Wimbledon title – the final in picturesNovak Djokovic wins fifth Wimbledon title – the final in pictures

England secure cricket World Cup with champagne super overEngland secure cricket World Cup with champagne super over


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner