Brendan McCole will be pursuing a personal goal as well as targeting team glory when he lines out for Donegal against Derry in Sunday’s Ulster Senior Football Championship final at St Tiernach’s Park, Clones.
Donegal have contested 10 provincial finals within the past 12 but McCole has yet to finish on a winning side.
Yet he will go into Sunday’s contest buoyed by a man of the match performance in his team’s first-round victory over Armagh when he nullified the threat of Rian O’Neill and another accomplished display against Cavan in the semi-final when he helped to limit the potency of the Breffni side’s inside line.
McCole, who has become a regular in the side because of the injury incurred by the long-serving Neil McGee, is counting down the hours to what he views will be “a titanic battle” come Sunday.
“The fact is that we have beaten Armagh and Cavan to get us into the final but when you compare this to Derry’s wins over Tyrone and Monaghan, you can see that it’s going to be very tough for us,” rapped McCole.
His man-marking skills, adept covering and willingness to launch counter-attacks have earmarked him as one of the most polished players in the Ulster series. While the Donegal attack normally tends to be a much-vaunted unit, their defence is not usually accustomed to lavish praise but McCole has played a big part in changing the overall outlook in this connection.
Yet the modest and unassuming McCole admits that he is still learning his trade from the man that he has replaced.
“Yes, Neil McGee has been something of a mentor to me and I am very grateful for that,” revealed McCole. “When you look at the quality in the Derry forward line you know that we are going to be tested to the full.
“We cannot afford to allow Derry to get the upper hand because they have shown how lethal they can be. This will be a titanic battle in which the pressure will be on right from the outset and it will make big demands on all the players.”