The Tuesday night after Donegal scraped through the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final, Jim McGuinness crammed his players into a makeshift portable building at Donegal’s yet-to-be-built Centre of Excellence in Convoy.
Caolan Ward last Sunday week answered the call from Declan Bonner to step into the Donegal team for his first championship appearance at Croke Park when Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Neil McGee’s absences through injury were confirmed prior to the epic 1-20 to 1-20 draw with Kerry.
It was quite something to see Michael Murphy at the Irish Open Pro-Am in Ballyliffin, laughing and enjoying the company of the country’s top golfers and a few thousand avid GAA supporters ten days out from what is effectively an All-Ireland quarter-final. It wouldn’t have happened on Jim McGuinness’ watch, I can tell you that.
Although some of the fizz has been taken out of the provincial championships since the introduction of the qualifiers back in 2001, there’s a semblance of a climactic feel to Donegal’s preliminary round opener against Cavan in Ballybofey tomorrow.
Gaelic football, and sport in general, can be all consuming for those of us at the coalface. Whether you are a player, coach, supporter or anything in between, we allow everything from training to games, and from stats to systems dominate our priorities all too often.