At just 24, Hugh McFadden has started his sixth campaign with the Donegal seniors and the down time in that time has been minimal.
McFadden’s club season this year stretched into late November as Killybegs had to navigate a three-way play-off in Division 3 and he was instrumental as they took hold of the silverware and, with it, a place in Division 2 for 2019.
McFadden has packed plenty into his young career having transitioned in his teenage years from a promising soccer player, who had first team stints at both Finn Harps and Sligo Rovers, to a regular berth in Donegal’s midfield.
The busy schedule doesn’t seem to trouble him too much.
“We had a few days off for Christmas, but we were back in the gym on Saturday,” he offered of the festive routine.
“You have to look after yourself now. You’ll not be long being shown up if you’re not.
“Everyone is playing for places and trying to get a stake in the team. You can only do that if you’re in good shape.”
He turns 25 later this month and McFadden’s leadership qualities marked him out for the captaincy for Donegal’s successful McKenna Cup in 2018. This time, again, it’s McFadden who has the armband for the McKenna Cup.
A ten-point win over Queen’s on Sunday got Donegal off and running for the new term.
McFadden said: “It was good to get back out on the field and get a win under the belt.
We did a lot of good things and there are a lot we can work on. That will build us into the game against Down.
“We had a lot of physical work done in the off-season. A lot of men are rehabbing injuries and getting ready.
“We have a good run of games to bring us back into the National League.”
Like his manager, Declan Bonner, who was very critical on Sunday, McFadden isn’t a fan of the experimental rules, which are on trial in the McKenna Cup.
He said: “The game went laterally a lot and there were kick passes for the sake of it. It’ll take a while to adapt to it. I have sympathy for the referees in the forward mark and counting hand passes.
“A lot of goals were scored with a nice piece of intricate passing, maybe a flick across goal and a tap-in, like Ryan McHugh has done so many times.
“If you take out that extra fist pass you put pressure on the player on the ball to make a worse decision.
“I think it was a rushed decision and I don’t think they should go ahead for the League and Championship.”