Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan has held his hands up for his All-Ireland football final error and admitted he simply duffed his kick-out.
Durcan ended the season as an All Star though the gong rang slightly hollow after his howler against Kerry in September’s final. His 52nd minute short kick out went straight to Kieran Donaghy who returned the ball with interest to the Donegal net.
In the end, Kerry won the game by three points and commentators homed in on the mistake and queried exactly what went wrong with Durcan.
Some suggested the sun was in the net minder’s eyes, while manager Jim McGuinness wondered the following morning if it was down to a colour clash of jerseys.
But, in his first interview since the final, experienced Durcan confirmed he simply mis-kicked the ball, with disastrous consequences.
“It’s been a tough few months,” said Durcan. “You try and put things in perspective. But it was hard the way it went for myself on the day with the mistake I made, on the biggest stage that is possible in my sport.
“I have to live with it and move on and try and enjoy playing my football, whatever I have left in my career. I just kicked the ground. I was trying to hit it out to the right slightly. I’ve watched it back myself again and I just kicked the ground and the ball took off at the wrong angle.
“Myself and Michael, the other ’keeper, were saying that it (kicking the ball out) is something we do every day and it’s so simple but it’s just something that happened.”
Asked if he has beaten himself up over the gaff, Durcan nodded. “I probably have, yeah. But there was good support around me, the whole team, Jim and the backroom staff and my family as well.”
Kingdom poacher Donaghy still had plenty to do despite being gifted possession by Durcan at a vital stage in the game when just a point separated the sides. But the towering attacker finished expertly past Durcan and wheeled away in delight.
“In fairness, he took the goal well when he got the sniff of an opportunity,” recalled Durcan. “That’s the problem with Kerry, you can’t give them these opportunities. They don’t miss many. In fairness, the goal in the first-half, they got that opportunity and I would have been disappointed with myself on that one too, but these are the things that happen. It’s just the way it goes.”
Durcan, 31 in April, says he’s committed to returning for Donegal under new boss Rory Gallagher and attempting to redeem himself.
“I’ll have to see if Rory wants me back in January,” he said. “If he asks me to play, I’ll play.”
Dublin based Durcan believes Donegal can retain realistic All-Ireland title ambitions when Gallagher, a selector for three years under former boss Jim McGuinness, takes over.
“I think if the commitment is there for Rory then there will be no issues in terms of what we’ll want to do next year,” said Durcan.
“Retaining the Ulster title is the number one obviously as well as trying to retain our Division 1 status. But the run-in in Ulster, you know, it’s something you can’t wait for. Every game is just going to be full blooded and I can’t wait for it.”
The Four Masters clubman will compete in the Great Ethiopia Run on November 23 in Addis Ababa. He will be an ambassador and fundraiser with the Vincentian Lay Missionaries.
He will visit various charity projects there including a newly founded school for deaf children. He will also meet legendary long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie “It’s a 10k run among maybe 40,000 people,” said Durcan of the challenge.
“It’s up at altitude as well, maybe 4,000 or 5,000 foot so it’s a big challenge.”
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