BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JIM McGuinness said after defeating Monaghan in the Ulster final in July that the triumph was the best of his tenure.
A six-point win over a Dublin side that many billed as unbeatable will surely rank right up there, but with Kerry to come in the All-Ireland final, the Glenties man was keeping his opinion grounded on that one.
“It rates absolutely nowhere because we have got three weeks to prepare for the All-Ireland final and if we get beat in that it will be crushing,” he said.
“I know that Kerry are thinking the same. That’s sport.
“I’ll have to look at it. We were very good against Cork in 2012. Cork were a very, very good team as well, an excellent team. Dublin did present a massive challenge. They kick a lot of ball into their full-forward line but they really targeted long range points from outside the 45 and we were caught with three or four of them in the first half.”
Donegal went in as the raging underdogs against 1/10 shot Dublin, but a five-day training camp at Johnstown House saw McGuinness get the blueprints ready.
Yesterday, they were presented to Dublin in some fashion.
McGuinness said: “We try and get ourselves and our own performance right, and that’s what we did.
“There’s a situation where we had to deal with Dublin but we also had to go and win the game.
“We knew Dublin were going to score today and probably score heavy. Because they normally do. They are very, very difficult to contain. So we had to be very positive ourselves and go and try and win the match.”
McGuinness has referenced the in-game intelligence of his side before – and he touched on it again yesterday deep in the Hogan Stand.
McGuinness: “The boys are able to take information and use it. And then on top of that make really good decisions. Colm’s ability to lose two markers and put it in the back of the net, that’s nothing to do with coaching or anything else. That’s his own game intelligence.
“Ryan McHugh, the way he ran, the way he made those decisions, that’s the players game intelligence.
“When you’ve got good players and you’re delivering a framework, you’re hoping they can work within that and show what they’re capable of. Thank God we did that.”
When Dublin twice went five ahead in the first half, Donegal had to solve the sliding puzzle.
McGuinness said: “That was something that they had to think their way through.
“We were hoping that we were going to be a lot more compact in the early stages because the last thing you want is for Dublin to be rampaging through you and kicking long-range points.
“Every time they shot, it was over the bar. The quality, Paul Flynn in particular was phenomenal in the first 20 minutes of the game.
“We had to try to re-evaluate what we were doing and how we were doing it and our defensive structure.
“I think once we started getting a couple of turnovers and then on the back of getting the turnovers we started pushing on with a bit more intent, it was a bit wee bit too lethargic and our decision making was off because we needed energy, we needed pace, we needed men with a bit of intent. When we got that the game started to open up for us and that fuelled confidence.
“The one thing we asked for before the game was honesty and the one thing we asked for at half-time was honesty and we got that. When you’ve got that, that gives you a platform to try to deliver your performance and that’s what happened.
“We married the two well today. They gave absolutely everything that they had and they were out on their feet but they also used the ball really well.”