Writers' award proves to be an ideal boost for ace Thompson
When Donegal won their second All-Ireland football title in 2012, Anthony Thompson was a gritty half-back who helped to link defence and attack, displaying an unremitting work-rate in the process.
Today, the 34-year-old defender has morphed into an even more versatile player, and when he lines out for Naomh Conaill against Clontibret in the first of the Ulster Senior Club Championships on Saturday night he will take considerable encouragement from an unexpected bonus which has just come his way.
Thompson's performances for Naomh Conaill in their three games against the then reigning Donegal champions Gaoth Dobhair in last month's county final saga ensured he became the latest winner of the Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers' Association monthly merit award and further emphasised his value to the team.
Since toppling Gaoth Dobhair, Naomh Conaill have overcome Cavan champions Castlerahan at the quarter-final stage of the Ulster Club series and now face a huge challenge against a Clontibret side that stunned Crossmaglen Rangers in a stirring last-eight encounter.
For Thompson, one of Donegal's unsung heroes in 2012, the writers' award has come as a major surprise.
"We had three games against Gaoth Dobhair over the course of 10 days and it was a war really," confirmed Thompson. "We knew we were going to be up against it but the whole team showed great character and courage."
"While it was hard enough having to face Gaoth Dobhair three times in 10 days, we then had to re-focus for our game against the Cavan champions Castlerahan."
"They made life very tough for us but we managed to get over them."
Thompson and his colleagues are now steeled for a semi-final showdown against a Clontibret side managed by former 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winner John McEntee.