Tuesday 22 October 2019

McGuinness pinpoints ice-cool approach as key to Donegal's superb display

Jim McGuinness, Donegal manager
Jim McGuinness, Donegal manager
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Donegal's ability to detach from the "emotional side" of Sunday's Ulster championship quarter-final has been acknowledged as a key pillar to their success by manager Jim McGuinness.

As the players had a recovery pool session and prepared to return to their clubs ahead of local championship action this weekend, they were able to reflect on what is undoubtedly their most creditable Ulster championship success of the nine they have now enjoyed under McGuinness' stewardship.

In one of the most impressive defences from reigning All-Ireland champions against opposition of such quality as Tyrone, McGuinness reiterated how the focus on playing football and not the occasion was a message in their build-up.

The emotion of playing the first game of their championship defence in front of a home crowd, the nature of their rivalry with Tyrone and all the question marks and inevitable pressures that hung over them since last September were put to one side.

It was more comprehensive and controlled, less tactical and less constrained than either of their previous two victories over Tyrone in Clones in 2011 and 2012.

Tyrone picked up six yellow cards to Donegal's two and in a key period in the second half, Joe McMahon was red-carded for a second yellow in between yellows for Colm and Sean Cavanagh.

At that stage, Tyrone's discipline was creaking. By contrast, Donegal were able to hold their nerve and composure.

"We didn't get caught up in the emotional side of the game. We were ready for the physical side of it. We managed that situation well," said McGuinness.

"It was something we talked about in the lead-up to the game. We wanted to try and win the game and were focused on doing that. Our best way to do that was to try and play football and play it at a high intensity level."

McGuinness is content that his team have continued to improve and the main source of that improvement is Paddy McBrearty, who looks ready to deliver on his vast potential in the weeks and months ahead.

"I think we have improved steadily over the course of the tenure," McGuinness said.

"A lot of them work hard on their weaker foot and different areas of their game. That's where the enjoyment comes from, to see players developing and maturing. Patrick (McBrearty) is an example. It's very satisfying."

Irish Independent

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