Hugh McFadden looking forward to next challenge
By Cian O'Connell
In Donegal, where Gaelic Football dominates the conversations, Hugh McFadden acknowledges the central role occupied by Declan Bonner.
The current Donegal manager has given significant service to the GAA as a decorated player, innovative coach, and club administrator.
Bonners work with underage Donegal panels leaves him ideally placed to know all about the strengths and weaknesses of the talent available.
Declan was a selector on my own minor team, he coached the Under 16, 17, minor, and Under 21 team with Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Jamie Brennan, that age group, McFadden says.
He really understands the psyche and style of football that is through the county. He would know every single player for Malin to Bundoran and in between. He is a good leader for this Donegal outfit.
That Bonner identified Stephen Rochford as somebody to assist the Donegal team is worthy of respect according to McFadden.
I think Declan deserves a lot of credit for the work he is doing himself and the management team he has built around him, McFadden adds.
Stephen has come in this year, Karl Lacey, Gary Boyle, and Paul McGonagle along with the goalkeeping coach and the rest of the backroom have been there from last year.
We are happy with how we are progressing, but we also recognise that the top teams around the country are all preparing very diligently. To even be competitive you have to be at a very high standard.
Following Donegals 2018 Ulster triumph the All Ireland Quarter Final Group Phase ultimately ended in disappointment with defeats to Dublin and Tyrone sandwiched either side of a victory over Roscommon.
Donegal's Hugh McFadden in action during the Ulster SFC Final at St Tiernach's Park.
I suppose coming out of the Ulster Championship victory away to Dublin was always a tough game, we went there with the full ambition of winning, but unfortunately we couldn't get that, McFadden reflects.
We had a good win against Roscommon and it was always going to come down to that big game at MacCumhaill Park. The fact it was essentially an All Ireland Quarter-Final at home, we were very disappointed with how it went. We also have to recognise that Tyrone are a very, very good team.
They were the better team on the day and they should their strength and quality in the rest of the Championship, playing an All Ireland Final. Given the proud record we had at MacCumhaill Park since 2011, that we hadn't lost a game, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Valuable lessons were learned by the counties who competed in the last eight with five of them returning to that stage.
Going into last year it was unknown territory for everybody, McFadden admits. I suppose the broadcasters and media, nobody knew how it was going to work out or how the country would react to it.
As a player it is very exciting because you get to play more big games essentially. It is funny to play now, you have gone from a do or die situation in Ulster, if you win you are through, if you lose you are out, to a scenario where your next game isn't do or die.
We want to win of course, but it is a funny dynamic to have in the middle of a season. We would hope to learn from last year, to try to improve that bit.
McFadden continues to develop into a commanding centerfielder for Donegal, but acknowledges the importance of remaining earnest and focused.
I'd never hide away that there were plenty of dark days, plenty of tough learning days, McFadden states. Things might have went well in the last few weeks, but if you sit there thinking you are going well you'll get your eyes opened next Sunday at MacCumhaill Park.
So things have been going okay, but I'm still looking to improve personally. If I can improve my own personal performance hopefully I can improve the team by the smallest of margins.