BY RYAN FERRY
PATRICK McBrearty says there is no slacking off for the Donegal players over the close season this term.
McBrearty missed a large chunk of the 2023 season through injury so he’s happy to be busy and on a gym programme.
There are a lot of physical gains to be made over the winter when there are no games on the horizon.
McBrearty says Donegal haven’t always been as diligent as they might have been in the winter months but there is a big push this year with a new management team in place.
“I had four months off during the year so I just really wanted to continue on with the programme I was on during the club championship.
“In the past we have maybe slacked off a wee bit in terms of meeting up.
“But the lads are all in the gym there now and we are following the programme set out by Antoin McFadden.
“The buzz is good among the lads, and we are just looking forward to getting out on the pitch in the next couple of weeks.”
There is a huge feel-good factor present in Donegal at the moment since McGuinness returned to the hotseat.
However, McBrearty says the players aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves and they know there’s a lot of work needed after an underwhelming 2023.
“It’s great to have him back but I think supporters sometimes get more carried away than the players will.
“It’s great that he has taken on the job no doubt but we’re just looking to get down to work.
“You’re trying to get ready for the National League and take it game by game then.”
Donegal won three out of four Ulster titles during McGuinness’s first stint and it gave them huge momentum, but the structure is different now.
The Ulster Championship is run off much more quickly these days, and there is a round-robin after it to decide who goes through to the knock-out stages of the All-Ireland.
Donegal have a tough opener against Derry but McBrearty is adamant that his team will give it their best shot as always in Ulster.
“As a player I think you want to win as many provincial titles as possible.
“I don’t think anyone will count how many round-robin matches you play in.
“It comes down to how many Ulster and All-Ireland medals you have.
“It’s not about how many quarter-finals or round-robins or Super 8 matches you played.
“The Tyrone players, the Derry players, the Donegal players who have won them over the last few years, there’s a bit of bragging rights over how many you have.
“The provincial title definitely means a lot in Ulster – I can’t speak for the other provinces.
“But as an Ulster county, you want to win the Anglo Celt.”
McBrearty was speaking at the launch of the new Donegal jersey on Thursday and he likes the design.
“I think everyone is happy with how the new jersey looks.
“It’s a new strip for 2024 and hopefully it will bring us a bit of luck.”