Beano McDonald: I struggled with hype of Laois glory days

Former Laois forward Brian 'Beano' McDonald has admitted that the 'hype and furore' of their golden era under Mick O'Dwyer wasn't always easy to deal with, leaving him anxious at times.
Beano McDonald: I struggled with hype of Laois glory days

Brian McDonald (Laois) is tackled by Niall Dunne (Mayo) in the 1997 All-Ireland Minor Semi Final. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Brian McDonald (Laois) is tackled by Niall Dunne (Mayo) in the 1997 All-Ireland Minor Semi Final. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Former Laois forward Brian 'Beano' McDonald has admitted that the 'hype and furore' of their golden era under Mick O'Dwyer wasn't always easy to deal with, leaving him anxious at times.

O'Dwyer managed Laois to a first Leinster title in 57 years in 2003 and returned them to finals in 2004 and 2005 before departing after an All-Ireland quarter-final replay loss to Mayo in 2006.

Gifted McDonald, a back to back All-Ireland minor medallist, was among their key players and fired 1-2 in the 2003 provincial final win over Kildare.

The Arles-Killeen man admitted in a revealing interview with the Inside The White Line podcast that he found it hard to cope with the spotlight and success.

"All this hype and furore," recalled McDonald. "At the end of the day, you still have to try to get through normal day living.

"For some people that would have been tough and I would have been one of the people that would have found all that hype down through the games...that maybe I didn't take it as well as other people and found it hard.

I would have been maybe anxious at times or took anxiety to a different level that I wasn't very comfortable with.

"Other people are seeing all of the good days and not seeing the not so good days. I probably put my hand up and say I wouldn't have taken all the hype as well as I could have."

McDonald also teamed up with Ireland's International Rules panel and worked as a selector with the Laois minors more recently. He reckons that talking about anxiety can be difficult for some players.

"It could be hard to talk about those things for many people but that's what goes on. There's people out there that could be in the same situation. I know at times I would have fell back on maybe drinking too much or whatever, when I shouldn't have been, and letting it maybe get out of hand.

"Thankfully you have your family in those times and who you need. Thankfully there's light at the end of the tunnel, you can have all the good days and look back on those good days.

For some people those times can be hard, difficult to get through and yet they were great days at the time.

McDonald suffered a horrific double leg fracture in 2004 after chasing for a ball with Tyrone's Ryan McMenamin in a Croke Park qualifier and slipping.

He was taken to the nearby Mater Hospital for surgery and recalled how ex-Ireland colleague Kieran McGeeney dropped in with the gift of Lance Armstrong's book about recovering from cancer.

"I had been on the International Rules team the year before, or on the panel, and Kieran McGeeney was part of that," he said.

"He arrived into the ward maybe two days later and he had this book. He's probably the only person that did his cruciate and never got an operation for it and he said, 'This book, read it and you'll come out of it stronger than ever'."

McDonald was frustrated at criticism of eight-time All-Ireland winning Kerry manager O'Dwyer towards the end of his tenure in 2006.

"We were after winning Leinster, we were after getting to two more Leinster finals, a period of time that up until then Laois hadn't experienced in a long time," said McDonald.

"So there was a sort of feeling of frustration why people were questioning him. You could say that he had got us as far as he could but I just felt that as a panel of players we weren't giving him what we gave him in '03, '04 and '05.

We were after letting him down to an extent, as a panel, not as individuals.

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