GAA Football

Donegal's Shaun Patton has no plans to follow DeChambeau weight gain in game of inches

Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton speaks with veteran full-back Neil McGee after last Saturday's Ulster semi-final victory over Armagh. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

HE may be long and lean but Shaun Patton’s kick-outs remain a serious weapon in the Donegal armoury – and for that reason the Letterkenny goalkeeper has no plans to follow the example of golfer Bryson DeChambeau any time soon.

In a bid to pack more power into his game, the American piled on over 20lb of muscle during the PGA’s Covid-19 enforced hiatus earlier in the year, those gains paying off as he swept all before him at August’s US Open.

For Patton, though, the emphasis has always been on technique rather than raw power, his ability to ping the ball from end of the field to another the result of years of practice rather than hours spent in the gym.

“I’ve tried putting on a few pounds!” laughs the Letterkenny man.

“No, Bryson DeChambeau, I was watching him. It didn’t work out for him over the weekend [at the Masters], he talked like he was going to walk over the course and the length didn’t work out for him that time.

“I grew up with a football beside me the whole time, no different to a lot of people, but you train and train and all you want to do is improve. That kick can go very wrong sometimes and it can work out sometimes – it’s just about working as hard as you can to improve.

“I worked on my kicking the whole way through my life, it was always something I wanted to be good at and luckily when I was younger at the soccer, there was a goalkeeping coach who came in and really emphasised kicking techniques. That improved me massively.

“I’m happy with how I am at the minute, I’m working hard to keep myself in good shape and obviously try and perform to the best level I can every week. That’s my main focus, be it if I have to put on weight, lose weight and whatever it takes to perform at the best level every week.”

His ability to go short and thread the ball through the eye of needle, or catch teams over the top has left plenty of opponents stumped in the three years since Declan Bonner asked him into the Donegal fold.

Patton, though, insists having men with the sheer size of Michael Murphy, Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee, Caolan McGonigle and others to target makes his job all the easier.

“The boys are fantastic, they are so committed to it.

“You could lump the ball out long for them, and every one of them is happy to get into a dogfight to try and win the ball. They have such good presence out there. At the end of the day you might say it’s part of their job to try and get on the end of kick-outs, but the willingness and the passion they show to get the ball into their hands is fantastic.”

One of the quirks of this Championship has been the showcasing of the calls aimed at goalkeepers preparing to kick the ball out in the absence of crowd noise, with shouts of ‘how long’ echoing around grounds the length and breadth of the country.

The best remain unaffected and, for Patton, it is simply “part and parcel” of the game.

“It’s a thing that teams do, teams try to get in your head and try to affect you, and it’s one of these things - you just have to take it as it comes and you have to understand every team will do their best to put the other team off in any way they can and try and gain a few inches.”

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GAA Football