Patrick McBrearty wants Donegal to put 2017 firmly to the back of their mind as they begin the task of picking up the pieces.
After six successive Ulster finals during a period where Donegal won one All-Ireland and contested another final, the Tir Chonaill men suffered heavy Championship defeats to Tyrone and Galway last summer.
The curtain fell for Rory Gallagher in the wake of a 14-point loss to Galway in a qualifier and Declan Bonner has filled the void.
“I think it’s something we need to put behind us to be honest,” McBrearty said of last year.
“The only positive is that a couple of young lads got a bit of championship experience, but it probably wasn’t the kind of experience they would have wanted. But hopefully that drives them on for the coming summer.
“It was going to be hard. We’ve lost so many bodies from the team that won the All-Ireland. It was always going to be a struggle to be honest.
“We had a very good League campaign. I suppose people were talking us up. We just hit a wall against Tyrone, we didn’t really recover from that. Galway really caught us on the hop then in Sligo last year, and that was the end of our summer really.”
McBrearty had a long campaign with his club, Kilcar, captaining them to a first Donegal SFC title in 24 years when they overcame Naomh Conaill in the final.
A young recruit to the senior ranks when Jim McGuinness had him ushered from MacCumhaill Park after an Ulster MFC game against Antrim to feature for the seniors in an Ulster SFC clash in 2011, McBrearty is a seasoned performer now.
He told gaa.ie: “There definitely is a big change there. But your job stays the same. The young lads that came in, they’re down-to-earth. They put in the hard yards too.
“It’s going to take a bit of time for them, to integrate. They’ve had success at minor and Under 21 level, and probably see themselves as just slotting in at inter-county football. It’s going to take some time, but I’ve all the faith in the world in them.”
McBrearty’s younger brother, Stephen, is one of an emerging crop now looking to make a breakthrough having been taken along by Bonner at minor and under-21 level.
McBrearty believes Donegal can flourish under the Na Rossa man.
He said: “Success breeds success, and I suppose Declan too knows who he’s dealing with, and they know who they’re dealing with in Declan.
“I think it’s going to be a fairly smooth transition. Declan, too, won an All-Ireland in 1992. There’s a lot of respect from the older players towards him too.”Tags: