The preparation game – Brian McGuigan
Donegal have got four weeks in the lead-up to the All-Ireland final which will open up a whole new world to them.
We were in a similar position back in 2003 with Tyrone. Only a few of the squad had been there in 1995, so it was totally new to almost all of us. We too had played first in the semi-finals, so we had four weeks.
We played club championship the following weekend, something which wouldn’t happen now. I remember I was being marked by Conor Gormley that day, and it was a bit of a surreal situation.
We met up the following weekend and were issued with a timetable of what exactly the next few weeks was going to involve. You had the formalities, things you wouldn’t even think of like getting measured up for suits and things, another new batch of gear from O’Neill’s and told when you were to wear it.
But the one thing which I found to be the biggest hassle of all was around tickets. People don’t realise how much of a pressure and a stress it can be on you. You’ve got family and close friends there who you’re trying to look after and who you want to see sorted. People can be so selfish when it comes to tickets instead of leaving you alone and letting you concentrate on your football.
There’s also the press night, fan nights and other activities in the build-up to the final which eat into your time and can easily distract you from the task in hand.
Things like that should all be finished up, done and dusted, at least a fortnight before the final. That way, you can have the time you need to focus on the real business which is actually trying to win the biggest game of football of your life.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday August 30. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here