Eamonn McGee says that Donegal’s new kids on the block are keeping the more experienced members of the panel on their toes.
The likes of Darach O’Connor and Odhran MacNiallais have made telling impacts for the side this term on the field of play. But their presence off it and behind the scenes is also having an effect.
McGee explains: “Different voices and different banter means that it freshens things up. It’s definitely needed in a squad and it’s healthy. You can’t sit still and I think you do need to bring in that extra wee bit to help the thing evolve.
“You can see that with ‘Jigger’ and Odhran. These young lads aren’t just happy to be there either – they want to be involved from the off and you can see that in training. That pushes everyone on in training. It’s a good thing.”
McGee admits that he enjoys the banter that Donegal’s younger stars bring. Whether it’s on the bus, in the hotel or at the training field, there is always a jovial atmosphere.
“I said it before the Derry game… once you reach a certain age you start to look around and you see lads like Patrick (McBrearty), Ryan (McHugh) and Darach (O’Connor),” he added. “Patrick beat me there in a sprint in training and he turned around and said ‘any day old man’!
“It’s great to see that kind of attitude. They’re fearless and that’s what you like to see.”
McGee agrees that the level of commitment now at inter-county football is greater than ever. The season is relentless. He isn’t complaining but he says that the shelf life of a county player has definitely shortened in recent years.
With the popularity of Gaelic games at an all time high, McGee feels that the Association needs to capitalise on the current buzz that is out there.
“I had a chat with one of the Cork boys recently. We were talking about meeting up for a night out. I said I couldn’t because I was training. We had a talk then about the demands of football.
“When you look at it, even at club level the demands are huge. It’s just the way it has gone. I’m not going to complain about it. We get well looked after and there are plenty of benefits.
“But I think you can see the retirement age is coming down. Players aren’t hanging around too long into their 30s. Down the line who knows what direction it will go. The GAA took a lot of stick for the Sky Sports deal but I think they should be commended for it.
“When you see people online talking about hurling and football you know it’s reaching a new audience. I think it’s brilliant for the sports. There are populations in London and Glasgow and so on and it’s about getting coaches out and brining the games to those people.”
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