BY CHRIS MCNULTY IN BALLYSHANNON
JIM McGuinness declared himself satisfied with ‘most’ of Donegal’s display in their 1-19 to 3-7 win over Louth that had more drama than the Tir Chonaill boss would have cared for.
At half-time, McGuinness was surely pondering giving a run to the fringe members of the panel behind him the dugout. At one stage, his side led 0-13 to 0-1 and were running away with the day even when Paddy Keenan snapped home a goal late in the half.
But any hopes of a walk in the park evaporated when Keenan’s second goal was quickly followed by Brian White finding the back of Paul Durcan’s net.
The goals were worrying for Donegal and only for a timely block by Mark McHugh Louth’s Declan Byrne could have had a fourth goal for the Wee County late in the day.
Thanks to a David Walsh three pointer, just after White’s goal at the other end, Donegal could wipe their brow.
McGuinness was content, though there was a feeling that the Glenties native had just red his throat to his charges when he spoke to the media on the graveled car park at Fr Tierney Park.
“Most of the performance we would be very happy with and then, obviously, some of the other issues we’re very disappointed with,” he said. It wasn’t hard to figure out what ‘the other issues’ were.
“Two of the goals, we felt we shouldn’t have conceded and that took the gloss off it a wee bit.
“We were 0-13 to 0-1 ahead before we conceded the first goal. We were playing really well and we were executing everything really well. That goal brought them back into it. The second goal was something similar. It put a bit of life into the game for that period, but we’d have preferred if we’d kept going.
“We will have to look at the goals and how they originated. They could have been prevented.
“Goals are big scores in any game and it got them back into it. Goals will always give people energy and Louth definitely got energy – and hope – from the goal. That’s a fairly natural thing. From our point of view we want to continue to drive on. To make mistakes and get punished with a goal every time is not ideal.
“If you take that element out of it, 80 per cent of the performance was very good. We are working on a lot of things and we got those things executed well.”
Having bemoaned his side’s accuracy on their previous outing in Newry when they lost on March 16, Donegal put up 1-19 in Ballyshannon, to the pleasing of the manager.
McGuinness said: “We got twenty scores today from twenty-nine attempts so that was very decent. We weren’t critical of them the last day because they’re normally good and they normally make good decisions.
“The goals had the impact on the match.
“We have a lot of positives to take from the game, but we need to look at the goals. We conceded 3-6 so take the goals out of it and it was a very good performance.”
Although Frank McGlynn, Neil Gallagher and Martin McElhinney were unable to start, all three are expected back in the fold for next week’s clash with Armagh, while Karl Lacey’s half-time withdrawal was also said to have been precautionary.
“Our squad is in a far better place,” McGuinness said in comparison to last season.
“We were losing players all the time last year and it was very demoralising for the squad.
“We haven’t had as many injuries this year. We’re trying to nurse some of the older lads back to full fitness.
“Rory (Kavanagh) played nearly a full game today and that’s the first time this year he has done that. In the period where we were thinking about taking him off he came into the game really well. He caught a couple of good balls in that period.”
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.