McGowan urges caution as excitement at ‘fever pitch’

Donegal chairman PJ McGowan has pleaded with supporters to taper their expectations after admitting All-Ireland final hype has hit “frightening” levels in the county.

Despite the homecoming controversy, there has been little let-up in the build-up to the game with shops selling paraphernalia predicting Jim McGuinness’ side will next Sunday bridge the 20-year gap to their last and only All-Ireland SFC success.

Donegal last week spent four days training in Kildare and Meath and McGowan admitted it’s been difficult to protect the panel from “fever pitch” hype.

“There are a number of things different from 1992,” said McGowan. “We were underdogs and people here probably expected us to lose to Dublin.

“This time the expectations have been frightening. There has been so much hype that it’s been very hard to shelter the players from it.

“We beat Cork, rated probably the best team in the country, and Kerry and before that we got over Down and Tyrone so the path has been difficult and supporters’ expectations have increased with each game.

“I urge all supporters to be cautious and would plead with them to be realistic. Mayo are in the final on meri.

“Apart from the last 20 minutes of their semi-final, Mayo were impressive against Dublin and I’ve no doubt they will address that.

“Mayo have also improved significantly and James Horan has done a massive job with them. With all this speculation and excitement, we need to be cautious because it’s been fever pitch these past couple of weeks.”

McGowan expects in excess of 25,000 Donegal supporters to travel to Dublin next week despite the county receiving less than 15,000 tickets as per senior finalist allocation.

“Our fans are sure to be pretty resourceful and get their hands on tickets in other areas. We had 35,000 at the semi-final and those people will want to go back.

“For that game, people were able to purchase tickets in local commercial retail outlets but that’s not the case for the final and it has left people in distress but I can understand the GAA’s strategy.”

Mayo chairman Paddy McNicholas expects 20,000 supporters from the county to make their way to the capital for the game. He reported demand being higher than the two previous finals in 2004 and 2006 against Kerry.

“In the past, we would have been playing Kerry and they would have been viewed as tougher assignments. That’s not to say that Donegal are not as tough an opposition. It might appear that way to some (supporters) but that is unlikely to be the case.”

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