| 13°C Dublin

Patience the key to Donegal approach

RARELY before (never?) has the tactical alignment of one of the combatants so dominated the conversation ahead of an All-Ireland semi-final.

Yet such was the utter uniqueness of the last time Dublin and Donegal played one another in the championship and the near intellectual regard in which Jim McGuiness is held, it was never going to be any other way.

For Dublin's part, Paul Flynn says they're expecting "something similar," this coming Sunday but suggested: "I think we've got preparation in terms of the way Monaghan set up (in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

"It's not the exact same," he continued. They didn't implement it as well as Monaghan can but it gave us a bit of an eye-opener as to how difficult it's going to be.

"The first 20 minutes against Monaghan was tight. I imagine it's going to be like that for the whole game next Sunday."


Clearly, in these sort of situations, patience is a virtue. So too is confidence.

Dublin displayed both of these traits against Monaghan, against whom they were visibly stifled for all of 25 minutes, last time out. Yet panic never descended.

"Yeah, try to keep believing in your game-plan and keep working to implement it," Flynn points out.

"Don't try and change anything because of the fact that you're playing something a bit different to what you usually play against.

It's a system the majority of Dubs have either played against (Donegal 2011) or played themselves within a rough variation of the theme.

In 2010, after the calamitous All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Kerry of the previous August, Pat Gilroy set Dublin up to frustrate during the League.

David Henry wore number 13 but mostly swept. Dublin's half-backs stayed rigid to their 'zones'.

"In the early days under Pat Gilroy, we didn't go ultra-defensive," begins Flynn before checking his run…

"We did, to an extent, but it was because of the fact that, for years, we'd been playing this kind of attacking football whereby we didn't defend at all.

"So we had to get that foundation right. We had to go back to basics, really.

"Then Pat did that and built on it the year after that. We've carried that over even though we're playing a more attacking style. We still defend and work hard for each other."

If Donegal set up with 13 men in their own half, will Flynn that it as a compliment?

"I wouldn't really think of it like that. Every team sets themselves up in a way they feel will help them to win.
"If that means they go ultra-defensive, that's just the way it is. We just have to find holes in that and be patient."