Marksman McBrearty shuns high life for sporting targets

For Paddy McBrearty, Maynooth has been a home away from home these past eight days.

Marksman  McBrearty shuns high life  for sporting targets

All going well, it will be for the next three years as he begins an Arts degree, with ambitions to becoming a qualified teacher.

He has put down history and geography as two of his three fresher year BA courses with his mind not yet made up about the last subject.

If his tweets are anything to go by, he’s enjoying it. Yesterday, he said: “Maynooth is a great spot!”

The Kildare town’s Carton House was also where he and the Donegal team trained for two days last week before moving on to Johnstown House in Enfield for another preparation break.

The All-Ireland final means he’s missed out on Freshers week but for a teetotaller, it’s little sacrifice.

More so, for a young man who’s turned down AFL offers and apossible career in professional football in his pursuit of becoming one of the top Gaelic footballers, it’s nothing.

“This is exactly where I want to be. I wouldn’t want to be going out, I’d rather be doing this here than going for a night out to a pub or a nightclub.

“This is my life, what I have been doing since I was 10 or 11, I feel this is what I’m into.

“This has always been part of the plan.

“When I was 14, 15, boys might be out drinking or whatever, but when I was on my first night out one of my mates said ‘Just take a drink’, and I said I had things on my mind.

“I wanted to be one of the best footballers in Ireland, I said at the time. Hopefully, I am on that track.

“My mum and dad played a massive role in everything I’ve ever done. I don’t think they have missed a game in the last four years.

“They even went to Spain to watch me play soccer. It’s just something that I have always been interested in.

“I want to see myself on the walls and people talking about me in 50, 60 years’ time.”

His parents keep him grounded but it’s obvious that there is a confident streak in the McBrearty clan.

Neither he nor his younger brother Stephen (Donegal’s U16 captain) were born when Anthony Molloy lifted the Sam Maguire Cup 20 years ago but that didn’t stop the latter hopping a ball with one of that team’s greats.

As McBrearty recounts: “Hopefully we can make our own history. I think he (Stephen) said that to Matt Gallagher in the Harcourt Hotel after the [Cork] game. Matt wasn’t impressed.

“They were looking at a photo of the ‘92 team and Stephen said it was maybe time to take that photo off the wall and put up a 2012 one! I think Matt wasn’t impressed. He is a bit cheeky!”

McBrearty looks at starting college life as a nice distraction given the hype in the county at the moment.

He’s also been careful not to answer the family telephone.

He has, though, been in touch with his friend Carl McHugh, who currently plays with Bradford City in League Two. It’s a path he might have followed but didn’t appeal to him.

“Myself and Carl played for Ireland together and we trialled at Celtic together.

“I kinda made a decision at the time that my education was more important than soccer and I was called into the Donegal minor team at the time and I’ve never looked back since.”

For a player so young and known as a marksman, McBrearty had already adapted to playing in roles further out the field.

Even at 19, he feels he’s experienced too many defeats.

“I’ve had enough disappointments throughout my career already. I’m that competitive, I don’t like losing.

“Any time you get a victory, especially in the Ulster championship (it is special). Ulster medals are scarce in Donegal.

“You will have these stories for the rest of your life, you will be telling them to your kids and grandkids or whatever, you want to remember what you can.”

And yet he admits he’s still inexperienced. Before Jim McGuinness pulled him up on it, he used hair-styling wax instead of gloves for grip.

As much as he’s a precocious footballer, he got a bit carried away in May of last year when he was suddenly drafted into the senior panel against Antrim in Ballybofey having played in the minor curtain-raiser.

“He (McGuinness) told me going on to play the middle of the field, but I played wing half-back and he wasn’t happy with me after the game. I was immature back then, for my age.

“I was taken straight off the field after the minor game and the seniors were in a huddle.

“I was taken off the field and there was a big plate of pasta waiting for me.

“We lost the minor game but it was an unbelievable experience, something that I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

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