Durcan is backed to be Mayo's shining light
Patrick Durcan can expect to enjoy a volume of support from Ulster when he lines out with Mayo against Dublin in tomorrow's All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final at Croke Park (5pm).
When he enrolled for the Masters course in sports psychology at the Ulster University last autumn, the modest and unassuming Durcan did not quite suspect that he might enjoy mini-celebrity status of sorts.
In the weeks that followed his contribution on the field of play for UUJ in the Higher Education League, Ryan Cup, Sigerson Cup and McKenna Cup, he built up his own personal fan base - with a number of prominent other Ulster county players included under that umbrella.
It was on Saturday last in a crucial Super 8s showdown that Durcan turned in one of his best ever displays in the Mayo jersey when he obliterated the threat that Donegal dangerman Ryan McHugh might have offered as well as scoring three points from play in an immense solo showing.
Tomorrow, Durcan is almost certain to be tasked with curbing the threat that Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello, Paul Mannion or Dean Rock - take your pick - might carry in the dangerous 9Dublin attack.
And one man who is "absolutely certain" that Durcan will again rise to the occasion is Ulster University Gaelic Academy president John Farrell.
"When Patrick came to the University last October, we knew we were getting a good player but we actually learned along the way that we had acquired a leader of men, someone who can set a magnificent example and a player who always put the team first," recalled Farrell.
"I cannot speak highly enough of Patrick. Everyone connected with Ulster University and indeed much further afield would just love to see him get an All-Ireland medal.
"Obviously his team have a gigantic task but I am certain that if his Mayo colleagues take their lead from him they won't be found wanting."
Durcan, one of Mayo's most prized assets, lets his many-sided skills do the talking for him out on the pitch and Farrell believes that the bigger the occasion, the better he can play.
"He has a brilliant temperament, a superb attitude," insisted Farrell.
"You could not wish success on a better person as far as I am concerned."
Durcan is not the only Mayo player to have paraded his considerable talents in the colours of the Jordanstown seat of learning.
Andy Moran, Cillian O'Connor and Evan Regan are all graduates of the Ulster University, while Diarmuid O'Connor, who is just returning from injury, is another who is undertaking a Masters course.