One of Mayo’s greatest footballers of all time, Ciarán McDonald, has spoken about his heartbreak over never winning an All Ireland intercounty medal in a rare media interview.
McDonald, widely regarded as one of the best forwards of his generation, played in three All Ireland finals against Kerry in 1997, 2004, and 2006 and won an All Ireland club medal with Crossmolina Deel Rovers in 2001.
The 40-year-old construction worker appeared on the RTÉ television show Second Captains on Wednesday evening.
He spoke frankly about his experiences in the senior Mayo panel and about his great love of the game, his county, and his club.
Remarking on “how thin the line is between success and failure”, McDonald said that no matter how he was portrayed in the media, he was always his own biggest critic.
He also said he never deliberately set out to create an air of mystique around himself by refusing to do media interviews at the height of his footballing career.
Instead, he said he is just naturally shy and also believed that, as a construction worker, he is from a “different type of a culture”.
“You don’t be seen to be opening up or talking to papers,” he said.
Asked if he believed in his heart that he would win on each of the three occasions when he set off for Dublin for an intercounty All Ireland final, McDonald replied “oh yeah, every time”.
“Every Sunday morning that I woke up for an All Ireland final I firmly believed that we had enough, enough lessons learned, enough preparation done, enough talent.”
The former All Star said the defeats in Croke Park are still “pretty raw”. However he said they were also “great memories”.
“It was great to be there. Would it be great to have an All Ireland title? Of course it would.”
McDonald, who is still putting in impressive displays on the field with his club, admitted he still dreams about an intercounty All Ireland title.
“You’d have a mad illusion in your head that you’re still good enough to play intercounty football with the hope of getting an All Ireland title,” he explained.
Asked about the prospects of a successful Mayo for Sam drive in 2015, McDonald said there is alot of work to do but Mayo is still in the top four counties in the country and may yet have a place at the top table come September.