While thousands of Donegal people might have made their way to Croke Park on Sunday few can claim to have made as dramatic an entrance as Muff man, Bren Whelan. He abseiled down with the match ball to get proceedings underway.
Speaking with the Journal yesterday Bren admitted his little adventure was very much a last minute thing.
He explained: “I have been involved in mountain climbing and abseiling for years. On Saturday I was speaking to a friend and I said to him that I would exchange tickets for the hurling all-Ireland which I had if he would give me tickets he had to the football. He said that he might have something more interesting to offer me. In fact, he was involved in organising the abseil at Croke Park, and half way during our conversation he said ‘I could be doing with you tomorrow’.
“So I never expected on Saturday evening that I would be doing an abseil live on TV at the All-Ireland the very next day’.
Bren explained that it was believed Minister Leo Varadkar was supposed to originally do the abseil but for some unexplained reason this plan did not get the go-ahead. Hence the last minute call to Muff.
Bren again: “I headed out first thing on Sunday morning and I was bumper to bumper with all the Donegal cars as they made the journey to Dublin.
“I got there about 11 a.m. and I was told that we only could really have one practice go.
“We had to scale down from a height of 44 metres and our ‘window’ for the the television cameras was 70 seconds. Our job was to start moving at eight minutes after three with the match ball, so the other guy was dressed in a Mayo jersey and I had on my Donegal top.”
A native of Dublin Bren admits he has now ‘gone native’ in that he’s now known as a ‘Dubbiegal’ - half Dublin, half Donegal.
“To be honest had it been DUblin playing Donegal I think I would still have opted to wear the Donegal jersey. Since I moved here in 2008 I have really taken to Inishowen big time.”
Bren, who is the proud holder of Mountain Instructor Certificate and is an International Mountain Leader, is a very experienced mountaineer who has climbed most of the local mountains in recent times and during the icy weather of 2010 skiied down Sliabh Sneacht on Christmas Day.