Donegal veteran Colm McFadden brought down the curtain on his fine inter-county career following Saturday’s defeat.
McFadden, Donegal’s record appearance holder and scorer, made his debut in 2002 and earned an All-Star in the county’s 2012 All-Ireland winning season.
“That’ll be it, absolutely,” he told reporters after the game. “I’m after 14 or 15 years. With them young fellas, that game is changing all the time. There’s plenty of fine talent coming through, good legs and good footballers so it’s time for them to take up the baton now. The team is in a good spot. The future’s bright for Donegal football.”
McFadden, who came on as a substitute late in Saturday’s game, said it’s not a wretch to leave.
“I don’t think so. Every man has his day. I suppose you’d like to play on forever but you have to move on at some stage and I was lucky that I had a couple of great years, particularly the past five or six years when I had success.
“Whenever success came after a barren spell it was all the sweeter having waited so long. A lot of footballers go through their careers, Donegal footballers, that didn’t win Ulster titles. Only one other team won an All-Ireland.”
Rory Gallagher anticipates more will follow McFadden’s example with Rory Kavanagh expected to retire for a second time. “It’s not something that’s spoken about but the reality is it’s inevitable that a few lads will call it a day.”
Gallagher knows Donegal now face a period of blooding in new players.
“There’s no doubt we have a lot of players with a lot of mileage. I think one thing that would stand out in the game is the phenomenal athleticism of Dublin. They probably have a number of players who are not as old as our players. That can be difficult as well. That can determine your tactics when you come down to play them. We’d have a lot of lads there a long time. A lot of our lads won a national league in 2007 - that’s a long time ago. We’ve got to rebuild: Donegal as a county has got to rebuild. They’ve had reasonable success at U-21, they’ve had good minor teams and they’ve got to keep bringing those players through to replace the older lads.”
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