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Monday 5 December 2016

Blues on red alert against one of their own deadly Dubs - McBrearty

Dublin manager Jim Gavin
Dublin manager Jim Gavin

It's transfer window season across the pond, and it's fair to surmise that if Jim Gavin was in the market to bolster his Dublin squad this week, he might fancy a couple of Donegal defenders.

Neil McGee, perhaps, to man the square in place of Rory O'Carroll - or Ryan McHugh to offer the jet-heeled penetration from deep that was Jack McCaffrey's calling card.

The notion that Dublin need outside help might seem perverse; but then, even the best can struggle to accommodate the loss of two All Star defenders.

There would be a far less compelling reason for Gavin to go raiding the Donegal dressing-room for a forward, not when you consider the roll call of Dublin attackers who didn't even make the Leinster final starting team against Westmeath - Paddy Andrews, Paul Mannion, Con O'Callaghan, Cormac Costello and Eoghan O'Gara.

Pinch

But what if he could pinch just one? Michael Murphy would seem the obvious call - but, on current form, especially with his epic demolition of Cork last weekend, it would have to be Paddy McBrearty.

Better still, the paperwork couldn't be easier: the citóg from Kilcar is, or rather was, a Dub.

It's no secret McBrearty was born a Jack. He didn't move to Donegal until he was 10, albeit that long summer holidays used to be spent in the native heath of his father, Seamus, a centre-forward mainstay for Kilcar in his own playing days.

Paddy's mother, Carol, however, is from the capital and is related to Tommy Conroy, an All-Ireland winner with Dublin in 1983 and the manager who led St Vincent's to the St Patrick's Day club summit two years ago.

In an interview earlier this year, McBrearty reflected: "Dublin is always seen as a second home really, after Donegal. It's always good to get down. I have a lot of family down there - whenever you beat them it's a bonus.

"When I was there we played for St James Gaels, but I probably would have gone to Vincent's if I'd stayed down."

Dublin's loss, Donegal's gain. He has only just turned 23, but seems to have been around forever - or at least since 2011, when Jim McGuinness parachuted the 17-year-old off the bench for his SFC debut against Antrim, having played for the Donegal minors that same afternoon.

He appeared as a sub against Dublin that August, and was a starter when Donegal scaled the All-Ireland summit a year later; but for the 2014 semi-final rematch with Dublin and that year's final defeat to Kerry, he was reduced to the role of impact sub.

Outstanding

Not any more. His 11-point haul against Cork, including seven from play, ranks as the standout individual display of the championship.

"It was just outstanding. But he has that potential - if you ever see him at club level," ex-Donegal boss Brian McEniff told The Herald.

But how difficult will it be to deliver a repeat display against his 'native' county?

"I wouldn't know!" joked his skipper, Murphy. "It can be difficult. There will be a certain amount of pressure - but his personality will leave him in good stead. He is a very easy-going lad who loves playing, and with that personality, it will not take a flinch out of Patrick."

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