By Alan Rodgers
SUCCESS, like the one achieved by Donegal on Sunday, deserves to be celebrated, according to one of the stars in their Ulster title victory over Cavan on Sunday.
Paddy McGrath’s teak-tough attitude on the field is reflected in his honesty off it. He has no doubts about the ambitions of the north-west side as they embark on the All-Ireland Super Eights.
But, before all that, he was keen to mark the achievement of a fifth Anglo Celt Cup and their tenth overall since the breakthrough year of 1972.
“We know we’re not going to be around forever, and maybe when you’re older you’ll appreciate what has been achieved here more,” he said.
“My family was at the match, my daughter, Lila Rose and wife, Stephanie. It’s a very special time for me to have them here as a father.
“We have to keep improving now for the ‘Super Eights’ and get everything right for that challenge. But you have to celebrate success, because Ulster for us was the main thing.
“A lot of the younger players came of age here. Jamie Brennan is a great young fella and he knows that. I know how good he is from marking him at training.
“He has great pace and is a credit to how much he has improved during the past year. I’ve been marking him at training, so know all about how good he is.”
Now Paddy and the rest of the Donegal team are retreating to prepare for the challenge of the All-Ireland Quarter Finals.
Last year, Dublin and Tyrone progressed from their group, so there’s a natural determination and anxiety to go one better in 2019.
“Last Sunday was all about coming to Clones, winning another Ulster title and going into the Super Eights as champions,” he added.
“Hopefully now we can progress with confidence to the Super Eights. In fairness to Cavan they kept battling and we knew that they were a good team. They made the final after beating Monaghan and Armagh, two good sides.
“Everybody had us down as favourites and that was another thing that we were a bit worried about that maybe players would become a little complacent.
“We will have to look at the two Cavan goals and see what happened, and it’s about getting the heads right because we’ve three weeks now to prepare for the Super Eights.
“It’s a big achievement to win back to back Ulsters. There’s great fight about the Ulster championship and something special about it. We’ll definitely cherish the medals.
“We have the youth on the team and it’s a credit to the young lads for driving it on to the next level. That’s what we need, youth coming out the whole time. They are good players, and they’re going to drive it onto the next level.
“The best test now is the ‘Super Eights’, and hopefully we can go at it now.”