Donegal selector Maxi Curran has not ruled out Paul Durcan playing for the county again, though the chances of him lining out this season are remote.
Curran was coy on Donegal’s goalkeeping situation for the upcoming Ulster championship. Two-time All-Star Durcan left to join his wife in the Middle East last autumn, though he flew back on several occasions to help guide Ballyboden St Enda’s to Dublin, Leinster, and All-Ireland club honours.
However, Curran said that arrangement would not work at inter-county level.
“There have been lots of stories flying around about Paul. There has been no hard or fast decision made on it. The situation has not changed. When Paul went away first, we decided that we would work away without him. What he was able to do with Ballyboden would not really be able to work at inter-county level. It was a brilliant achievement, but it is just not workable at this level.
“Anything we got out of Paul we always said would be a bonus. Paul will be back, there is no doubt about that. It is a case of when, not if. It could be soon, it could be further down the line, we are just not sure. We are just planning without him at the minute.”
Challenging Michael Anthony McGinley and Peter Boyle, Durcan’s long-time deputy Michael Boyle will shortly come into the reckoning to succeed Durcan as championship, having recovered from his cruciate tear.
However, Curran knows just what they’re missing without their resident netminder.
“Any player of Paul Durcan’s class would be missed. There are very few better in the country. Stephen Cluxton, maybe, who is probably the best goalkeeper that has ever played the game. Paul is up there with him and has played a massive part in our success in the last couple of years. It is a challenge for us to overcome.
Curran played down Donegal’s poor end to their Division 1 campaign, which ended with a fifth straight defeat in the form of a 13-point reverse to Dublin in a semi-final.
“People tend to get hysterical, I think, after games and get carried away with how games end up. The reality is that two weeks previous, after 67 minutes, we were two points down and then all of a sudden two weeks later we are finished.
“By that stage, we had lost Michael Murphy in that regulation [round] match as well, and we felt that we played well in that game and we felt we had a real chance of winning it before Michael left the field.
“It is all relevant to the time of the year that you are playing at. The game has changed over the last few years. This notion of teams running out of legs — teams now are far more accustomed with dealing with counter attacks, setting up defensively and teams are better equipped to teams running at them than they were in the early days of Donegal’s emergence.”
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