Man of the match Paddy McBrearty admitted the Bitegate controversy that has followed him since the league finale against Dublin was “a bit head-melting”.
The Kilcar teenager, 20 in August, put it all behind with a marvellous display in front of his home support, setting up both goals in Donegal’s six-point victory as well as kicking two points.
The Central Competitions Control Committee (CCCC) case against Kevin O’Brien was thrown out by the Central Hearing Committee after McBrearty didn’t turn up for the hearing to provide evidence.
Jim McGuinness insisted his player was bitten and defended his decision in the wake of the disciplinary action being dropped.
“It was obviously difficult,” acknowledged McBrearty who insists the drama is now completely out of his mind. “It was a bit head-melting, but I had U21 Championship and club football to focus on and thankfully I had that to block out all the media hype about that.”
McBrearty also had first year exams in NUI Maynooth, which finished last Wednesday, but his maturity in MacCumhaill Park will undoubtedly assist his progress at senior level.
Behind his debut against Antrim two years ago, he ranked yesterday as his best in a Donegal jersey.
Although delighted he’s playing in his more preferred position in the full-forward line, he humbly sees himself as having a lot of work to do to catch up to the likes of fellow attackers Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden.
“I’m probably the third option in there beside the two boys. Definitely, there’s better stuff to come. I take every game as it comes.
“Inside — that’s where I’ve played for my club all the way from underage and when I joined the senior [Donegal] team. I’m more comfortable closer to goal. Hopefully, I’ll stay in there in the future.”
For the first goal, his touch was perfect for McFadden to run onto. “Colm just gave me a shout and I saw him from the corner of my eye. I got a good connection on it to flick it towards where he was. Colm still had the majority of work to do after that because it was a tight angle. Thankfully he put it in the net.”
His powerful sprint in setting up Ross Wherrity for the second goal was a sight to behold. “It was a good ball by Rory Kavanagh,” he recalled. “It was a forward’s ball so the defenders couldn’t do much about it. Thankfully Ross was in the right place at the right time.”
He regards this as the best panel Donegal have had under McGuinness. “You saw Ross there chipping in with a goal, Marty Reilly came on at half-time and contributed well and we’ve Odhra Mac Niallais and Luke Keaney in reserve.”
McBrearty also admitted he’s glad to be back in Donegal for the summer having split his time between college in Kildare and home. “When you join an inter-county squad you have to give that commitment.”
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