COUNTY final day is nothing new to Dromcollogher-Broadford’s Pat Donnelly.
Captaining his club this Sunday will be new to Donnelly but County final day has been routine to the centre forward since 1987.
Indeed Donnelly’s first game of adult football was the epic county junior A football final of ‘87 when Athea eventually emerged winners in the third game.
2012 is Donnelly’s 16th season of adult football and Sunday is the 11th year that ended with a county final appearance.
“I remember that we had a rule in the club that you couldn’t play with the adult team until you were finished with the minors so the junior final against Athea was my first game,” recalled the Dromcollogher-Broadford captain this week.
Drom-Broadford lost that final but returned to win the county JAFC the following year.
One year later the IFC was added by the side that were to dominate the next decade at senior level with five wins and two final defeats.
“The challenge is the same every year - to reach a county final and then its pretty much a lottery as to who can win,” explained the Charleville CBS teacher.
“I remember Dr Bob (Sheehy) coming in and he made everything so professional and thought us how to train. That’s the most important thing for me - learning how to train and that’s something that has stayed with us all the years. It’s all about coaching,” outlined Donnelly.
That “culture” remains intact.
“A lot of it is down to the different coaches that have been involved. They always keep re-inventing sessions to make sure no two are the same.”
He continued: “There really is a great bond between us all. We all socialise together - we have been to funerals, weddings and now christenings and all that helps to great a great bond”.
After two years away from county final day, Listowel man Jerome Stack came on board this season as coach to the Mike Fahy managed side.
“He has freshened things up. Jerome is very good at what he does and is a great addition to the club.”
Motivation can’t have been a problem either this season.
“We have trained no harder that any other year really,” responds Donnelly.
But what of losing three successive times to Sunday’s opponents.
“A lot was made of us missing players this year but I wouldn’t accept that as an excuse. We prepared for that game just like every other game. We will be just as focused on Sunday as we were for that game,” said Donnelly.
So revenge is not the motivation?
“I wouldn’t get drawn into that. You can get distracted from the game if you start to think of revenge. Newcastle West are a team that we would know socially and wouldn’t begrudge them any win but of course we will be trying to win as well. That the job of the GAA,” said Donnelly, who attempts to follow in the footsteps of five time winning captain Tom McLoughlin.