GAA Football

Dublin 'not anywhere in sight' for Donegal insists Shaun Patton as potential All-Ireland semi showdown looms

Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton rises high with Armagh's Cathal McKenna during last weekend's Ulster SFC semi-final win over Armagh. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Neil Loughran

DONEGAL goalkeeper Shaun Patton insists six in-a-row chasing Dublin have not appeared on the Tir Chonaill radar yet – despite standing just one step away from a potential All-Ireland semi-final showdown against Dessie Farrell’s men.

Declan Bonner’s defending Ulster champions are rated 1/10 favourites to see off Cavan in Sunday’s provincial decider, with the Dubs 1/20 to topple Meath in Saturday evening’s Leinster final.

Following Kerry’s shock exit to Cork, and the impressive nature of Donegal’s victories over Tyrone and Armagh thus far, the Tir Chonaill are now viewed by many as the challengers in chief to Dublin’s crown – with the Ulster and Leinster winners on a December 5 collision course.

But Patton is not taking Cavan lightly, especially after the Breffnimen’s breathtaking semi-final comeback win over Down last weekend followed earlier victories over Monaghan and Antrim.

“At the minute they’re not anywhere in sight,” he said of Dublin.

“We have a massive game against Cavan, with the two comebacks Cavan had over the Ulster campaign so far, they have an unbelievable resilience about them and such a spirit within the camp.

“We won’t be looking past the Ulster final, it’s a massive day. Cavan take great pride in their football, no different to ourselves, so our focus is on them. We can’t afford to get complacent.

“We knew Armagh could pose a real threat, they do have good footballers and a good team there, but we focus on ourselves and you can’t afford to get complacent or a team will just turn you on your arse.”

Patton’s raking kick-outs have been a feature of Donegal’s success since Bonner brought him onboard three years ago, and it was his quick restart that provided the catalyst for Michael Langan’s crucial goal as Tyrone were turned over in Ballybofey last month.

However, there were a couple of uncomfortable moments against the Red Hands – not least when he spilled a normally routine catch that almost gifted Tyrone a second half goal – while another handling error proved costly in defeat to Dublin back in February.

Despite the plaudits that have rightly come his way, the Letterkenny man knows goalkeepers play a high stakes game every time they take the field.

“It was extremely disappointing looking at it,” he said of the mistake which led to Paul Mannion’s bundled goal.

“It cost us the game - these things happen. Obviously, it's not nice and it's not easy to get over. That's part and parcel of the position. You make one mistake and you're dubbed as losing your team the game.

“That moment in the Tyrone game was extremely hairy. Jesus, looking back on it now, I don't know how it stayed out. It was absolutely outrageous. It's one of the things about winter football, these are the conditions you're faced with.

“That's the enjoyable part of the role too - there's so much pressure. You just have to embrace it. If you didn't make mistakes, you wouldn't learn and it would be such an easy game.”

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