Cathal Noonan/INPHO
straight red

Eamon McGee: I didn't watch the 2013 final, I ended up getting sent off in a soccer match

The full-back is looking forward to the task of keeping a resurgent Kieran Donaghy under wraps.

DONEGAL SURRENDERING their All-Ireland title last year was hard for Eamon McGee to stomach.

The 2012 champions were on the receiving end of a 16-point thumping by Mayo in the quarter-finals last August, and McGee admits he couldn’t bring himself to watch the final between the Connacht side and Dublin.

“I didn’t watch it. I was playing soccer for Gweedore Celtic and I ended up getting sent off. Some boy was mouthing to be about Croke Park or something and I ended up getting a straight red. That was the height of my All-Ireland final.

He smirks when it’s put to him if he deserved a red. “Oh, fully justified. It was off the ball. It was fully, fully justified.”

The Gwedore man was fed up with the game for a period after the Mayo defeat, but eventually Donegal regrouped and came to the conclusion they had more left in the tank.

“I was still sick from the performance against Mayo that I couldn’t be bothered either being involved in GAA or watching it. It was just self pity to be honest with you. It wasn’t a case of staying away from it.”

Eamonn McGee 31/8/2014 Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

“A few of the lads were talking after the Mayo game. I said it earlier on there that self pity is a useless emotion in my own opinion. It doesn’t serve to do much. But a lot of that was going about and we sat down together and quickly realised that we have a bit of unfinished business to do.”

With the hunger back Donegal built momentum and form throughout the summer, before dismantling the seemingly unbeatable Dubs on a seminal afternoon in Croke Park three weeks ago.

The elder McGee gave up just six touches of the ball to his direct opponent Eoghan O’Gara that day in a dominant display. On Sunday, McGee will renew acquaintances with Kieran Donaghy, whom he had a great tussle with in the 2012 quarter-final. He won’t be faced by the Tralee man.

“As I said before, I kind of like the big bucks coming … I don’t like the small, speedy bucks coming! Listen, I played against him in 2012, was relatively happy, he got in for a goal in the last ten minutes. It’s something I look forward to. Now, every player will say that – you have to challenge yourself and measure yourself against the best, and Kieran is up there with the best.”

McGee is aware that Donaghy could be switched further outfield in a game that will be as much about the tactical battle on the sideline as the one on the field.

“If you’re Eamonn Fitzmaurice you could go down that route. I think every manager is trying to spring a surprise here and there. Jim has done it, and there’s a few other surprises down through the championship.

“So, you never know what could happen. Kieran can play midfield, he can play half-forward. But his most lethal position is in around the square, so if he doesn’t start there he’ll be in there at some stage, I’d imagine.”

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