In our final interview in the third of our All Ireland winning player series Coddle.ie caught up with Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan, for his take on the game he has embraced since early age right the way through to the pinnacle at Senior Level.
The Four Masters club man is no stranger to success and gives frank forthright opinion on all things Gaelic……
An All Ireland after years of playing and training hard- Where did it all begin for you? Why football as the main past time?
Its been a long time coming, I started with Donegal in 2004 and the final was my 99th game for Donegal. It all began in my club at under-age and luckily enough there is a great under-age structure in my club so i feel this is the reason it became my main pass time, due to the fact i enjoyed it so much.
Have you ever had any doubts about your choice?
I would think most people may have had doubts at some stage, living in Dublin and traveling to Donegal for training would certainly do this to you. Lucky enough those doubts are put well behind you when you are winning.
What’s your fondest memory of Junior Football? Who were the people who inspired you?
I have many fond memories, winning county titles at a few age groups with my friends would be my fondest, i was always inspired by great keepers like Gary Walsh, Packie Bonner and Shay Given.
Who could you pick as your hero growing up?
I would have to pick Gary Walsh as my hero and thankfully i was able to walk in his footsteps this year which was a dream come true.
Moving on to this year………
What targets were set at the start of the year?
At the start of the year I feel any team going to play in championships main aim would be to win a provincial title and this was our first aim to retain the ulster title.
Jim McGuinness has rightly earned the plaudits, how did he revolutionise football from your perspective?
I don’t think he has revolutionised football, but what he has done is brought together a group of footballers and focused them on a goal.
Do you enjoy training? Who is the worst trainer in the squad and who is the best?
I enjoy the training, specifically the tougher side of it, the goalkeeping. Lucky I have a good trainer in Donegal, Pat Shovlin who puts us through the paces.. and when in Dublin there are two men who I have to thank for the training, Eugene Eivers our strength and conditioning coach and Gary Kelly, a goalkeeper coach myself and Philip Green (Sligo Keeper) train with. We are lucky to have so many quality trainers around us.
Id have to say the worst trainer in the squad is Frank McGlynn, forever complaining and giving out!!!!!
Best trainer would have to be Michael Boyle, goalkeepers always train hardest!!!!!
Who is the worst dresser and why?
Worst dresser has to go to Eugene Eivers, can’t get that purple shirt out of my head!!!
What was the turning point this season if any? When did you really feel you could beat anyone?
There was no real turning point that i can put my finger on but i would look back to the victory over Tyrone as a very important part of the season. it was a tough close game we came through thankfully. in mu opinion i never went out with that frame of mind, but i knew if we performed to the best of our abilities we would give anyone a good game.
Who was your unsung hero in the squad?
I think there were two lads that put in a lot of time that was Michael McMenamin and Maxi Curran
The attitude and togetherness shone through in the close games…… Was this something you were aware of? Ego’s were noticeable by their absence, again was this talked about?
It felt like there was a good togetherness within the team, you are definitely aware of it but its not something we focused on as it is more of a natural occurrence. Ego’s were never mentioned, everyone was aiming for the same goal.
Dublin flattered to deceive with a lot of big names not showing up – Why do you think that was? Was it as simple as not having the hunger?
If you look at the second half against Mayo you can’t say that there was no hunger there, they are a great team and they will not be far away next year.
Now the team to beat, will you come back stronger than ever?
I think we’ll enjoy ourselves up to December and after that we will look at the year ahead. Firstly we have a very tough league campaign ahead so that will be our focus.
Do you set yourself personal targets?
I feel you have to have personal goals, I know they help me to focus on what i am trying to achieve on and of the pitch.
Would you like to get into coaching further down the road?
I have a keen interest in Goalkeeping coaching, i do a bit of this now so i would like to keep it up in the future.
Any advice for young fellas out there slogging away in the hope of it coming right for them?
I would say, keep going and always enjoy it and things will come together.
15) An unknown fact or story about you.
Nothing of note to be honest. (How about saving two penalties on the way to winning the Sigerson Cup with Sligo IT in 2005 – ed)
Images thanks to gaa.ie & rte.ie