FROM CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYBOFEY
THIS was as angry as we’ve ever seen Jim McGuinness.
The Donegal manager was visibly seething in Ballybofey yesterday in the wake of the dramatic draw with Dublin, which means that his side have been relegated to Division 2 for 2014.
The Glenties man had an expression that might have sliced cold steel as he spoke with the media following the game.
Paul Mannion’s point thirty seconds from the end of injury time has condemned Donegal to dropping a Division, after spending two seasons in the top flight.
This was far from the source of McGuinness’s displeasure, though.
While not directly referencing it, the Donegal boss had clearly been incensed when Jason Whelan was not penalised for a foul on Rory Kavanagh in the 61st minute.
Kavanagh had appeared to have been in the parallelogram when his kicking leg seemed to have been taken from under him by the Dublin player. The referee, Michael Duffy, decreed otherwise and awarded only a ’45.
“A lot of stuff went on that didn’t add up, let’s put it like that,” said McGuinness whose players were, he mentioned, ‘shell shocked’.
“There were a lot of things going on near the end that had a major impact on the game and have relegated us as a result.
Asked directly as to the source of his ire, the Donegal chief said: “Listen, you’re a journalist. You seen the game as well as I seen the game. You report on it tomorrow and I’ll read it.”
Duffy was only the replacement referee as he was called in to sub for Padraig Hughes when a freak leg injury saw him carted away on a stretcher ten minutes into the second half.
A tenth-minute goal by Colm McFadden had Donegal ahead from then until they were almost at the winning post. But when Mannion arched over, it was curtains. News had already been relayed that Kerry defeated Tyrone and Mayo won in Cork.
“It isn’t the end of the world for us,” insisted McGuinness.
“It doesn’t make a difference for us. We don’t really like the League to be honest. We like to bring the down and make them fresh for Championship to have them ready for the summer.
“It is very hard to balance that with winning games, particularly in Division 1.
“It isn’t a big issue for us. We’ll rebuild in Division 2, not that we’ll be rebuilding but it’ll be a wee bit easier on us in terms of the opposition we’ll be playing.
“It’ll give us a chance to roll out our annual plan easier than it has been this year and last year. We have no problem with being relegated – it is just the manner it unfolded in.”
Donegal gave first League games yesterday to Eamon Doherty (St Eunan’s) and Luke Keaney (Four Masters), while the likes of Karl Lacey, Neil Gallagher, Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath must return in the coming weeks. Colm McFadden left at half-time yesterday, as a result of cramp that McGuinness suggested was down to the upping of the ante in training this week.
Seven weeks from now, they meet Tyrone in the Ulster Championship. McGuinness said: “It is about the summer for us, it’s always about the summer.”