Peadar Mogan: How Donegal’s year in the wilderness brought best from me

St Naul’s speedster has starred under McGuinness after injury ended 2023 campaign prematurely

Donegal's Peadar Mogan, pictured at his club St Naul's in Mountcharles, has been named the PwC GAA/GPA player of the month for May. Picture by Sportsfile
Donegal's Peadar Mogan, pictured at his club St Naul's in Mountcharles, has been named the PwC GAA/GPA player of the month for May. Picture by Sportsfile (Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

LITTLE good may have come out of 2023 from a Donegal perspective – but some time spent on the sidelines helped deliver a new and improved Peadar Mogan who was “mad for road”.

Already reeling from the retirement of Michael Murphy, last year saw Paddy Carr step down after just 149 days as manager, with relegation from Division One, Championship defeats to Down, Derry and Tyrone and an academy crisis compounding the county’s annus horribilis.

The likes of Ryan McHugh and Niall O’Donnell – both key men in the Tir Chonaill’s resurgence under Jim McGuinness – were also unavailable, while university commitments in Liverpool curtailed Mogan’s involvement.

Eventually an injury picked up in the penultimate League game last year, a miserable 11-point defeat to Mayo in Ballybofey, brought a premature end to the St Naul flyer’s year before Championship was even under way.

But while the Tir Chonaill toiled, Mogan got himself into the best shape ahead of McGuinness’s return – with the new regime bearing the fruits of his hard work after a series of stunning displays saw him named PwC GAA/GPA player of the month.

“I suppose you have a lot of time to reflect when you are away,” said the 25-year-old.

“I kind of used that as a way to refresh and get ready for next year. I probably used that time wisely and well to probably come back that wee bit stronger and maybe come back earlier.

“I didn’t play for four months so when I came back into the club championship I was mad for road where some people were coming off the back of an inter-county Championship season.”

However, watching from the wings is never easy.

Mogan at least had the remove of being in a different city in a different country while the wheels were coming off the Donegal bandwagon,

“I probably didn’t get the full force of it compared to some people because I was away in Liverpool, so I wasn’t talking to a whole pile of people or around that environment.

“I was obviously coming home for a while for training and games and then I ended up getting injured so I wasn’t getting the full brunt of it but it wasn’t nice, even some of the stuff you were reading and me being away, I was feeling very sorry for the players with some of the stuff that was being said about them or whatever.

“But I think, in some of the games then, they gave a really good account of themselves and even me watching on, I watched the Monaghan game last year and things like that would give you a good sense of pride.

“It was great to get a couple of wins in the Championship and even make the preliminary quarter-final with everything that happened, but it wasn’t a pretty time… thankfully we’re on the far side of it and we’re not going to dwell too much on it or worry too much about it now.”

With promotion back to Division One and an Ulster Championship already in the bag, it couldn’t have gone much better since McGuinness came home.

And, with an All-Ireland quarter-final against Louth looming on Sunday, Mogan is happy to see the buzz back in Donegal.

“Ah look, a lot of people are talking about it which is good, just to get football on the lips of people again… people really weren’t talking about it as much so it’s great to just even have the support there.

“The support at the games has been absolutely fantastic and anybody who’s been at the games would say the Donegal supporters have been brilliant so long may it continue. We’re very thankful for that and we’re also conscious of putting on displays or giving them something to talk about and also trying to give them something they can resonate with.”