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McGuinness bemoans conservative Donegal


Donegal manager Jim McGuinness consoles Darach OConnor

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness consoles Darach OConnor


Donegal's Anthony Thompson, left, and Dermot Molloy dejected at the final whistle

Donegal's Anthony Thompson, left, and Dermot Molloy dejected at the final whistle


A dejected Paul Durcan, Donegal, after the game

A dejected Paul Durcan, Donegal, after the game


Donegal manager Jim McGuinness consoles Darach OConnor

Jim McGuinness is offered several escapes routes.The blow of conceding what must be one of the fastest, if not the fastest goal ever in an All-Ireland final, the calamity of Paul Durcan's short kick-out which Kieran Donaghy snapped up for a second goal, the absence of luck in the final exchange when Colm McFadden struck an upright, a couple of half goal chances not taken earlier.

But no, he declined them all. It wasn't about what happened in those singular moments. It was the overall picture.

They weren't intense enough, they didn't turn over enough ball, they didn't counter quick enough and they just didn't get sufficient troops into enemy territory.

They didn't do well what has taken them so far as a team and, crucially, they had taken their eye off the ball somewhat.

"Maybe we wanted it to be nine o' clock out in the CityWest with the Cup," he suggested.

"But the game is played at half-three. You have to deliver the performance at half-three. It's very unusual for us. We nearly always deliver a fairly high-octane performance. We didn't get that today and that's the disappointing thing.

Why had that been?

"I don't know, I genuinely don't know. It's a big occasion, maybe that's one of the reasons. It's too early for me to say, and that's being honest.

"I have to look at it, think about what we did in the lead-in to the game but I can't put my finger on it at the minute."

For McGuinness, there are few positives to draw upon. They reacted well to both goals, they brought most urgency into their play after the second one but they were "far too conservative", he conceded.


"This is the All-Ireland final, the biggest sporting occasion in the country and you have to really take that opportunity and go for it," he said.

"We just didn't get that spark today to win an All-Ireland. Because we've won an All-Ireland, we know what it takes to win it. And it takes a team being very offensive and very positive and continuously driving through the 70 minutes. We were far too conservative - far too conservative. We needed to take the opportunity and go for it, absolutely take the game to Kerry," he reflected.

"Any time we did that we got through. Leo McLoone did that, Rory Kavanagh did that and we punched holes. Why we didn't do it all the time, I don't know."

"We had a huge amount of work done on how intense we wanted to be in terms of getting at Kerry. We didn't have the runners. We didn't have the overlaps. We didn't have the players getting ahead of the ball asking questions of them.

"Kerry set up the exact way that we thought they were going to set up. They had eight and nine players along their own '45. They left pockets in behind for their full backs to go man to man.

"You've got to be able to keep the ball moving. You've got to keep recycling the ball and finding those pockets. Too many times we weren't able to do that." And when they were chasing the game for a second time in the last quarter he still felt they held back too much.

"We wanted them to push up but in the first half when we were turning ball over we wanted them to get at Kerry and there was no movement.

"We were on the sideline and Ryan McHugh, we couldn't get him up the field, Rory Kavanagh, we couldn't get him up the field, Frank McGlynn, we couldn't get him up the field, and these are guys who are excellent ball-players, great decision-makers, have a lot of pace and can ask questions.

"There were gaps in our game plan today and we needed to fill those gaps with cornerstones of our game plan. What we are good at."

Donegal had clawed their way back in a tight first half to gain parity at 0-6 to 1-3 after being four points down after three minutes but still he found no comfort.

"We weren't happy with our performance at half-time. I don't think Kerry will be happy with their performance either. I don't think either team performed to their level today.

"When Kerry got the second goal they started taking really good decisions on the ball, offensively and worked us a lot when they got into that situation.

"I don't think either team hit the heights that they were capable of today.

"You have to give Kerry great credit for that and what they did and how they did it.

"We are disappointed we didn't deliver to the level we are capable of and it was the one thing we wanted going into the game.

"We wanted no regrets and to empty it out on to the pitch and whatever the result was, we could live with it.

"The fact was that we didn't get anywhere close to our performance level. We were within a whisker of sneaking a draw at the end of the game.

"We looked tired and we looked a wee bit lethargic. We didn't just spark or click into our normal sort of rhythm. Why that is I don't know.

"We will have to reflect on the game. We will have to look on the game. From a defensive point of view, we did okay but we weren't dominant when when we turned the ball over."

McGuinness was adamant that the goals had not been their ultimate downfall.

"It was a bit of a hammer blow conceding the first goal but I thought we reacted to it really well. We still weren't playing like the way we normally can.

"The second goal was a hammer blow but I thought we reacted to it well. But you would have to ask the question why were we not able to do that during open play in normal time. Why did we not go at the opposition? Why did it have to be on the back of conceding a goal?

"People have talked about Papa's (Paul Durcan) goal that we gave away. But we lost the game over 70 minutes based on our own performance level. You could say that all two of the goals had an impact on the game.

"But I personally think, if we were fully at ourselves - intensive and sharp and aggressive on the counter-attack - and played the way that we practised in terms of seeing that man inside with the dink ball - I think we could have been very competitive through the game. It didn't happen that way and that is the most disappointing thing."

Patrick McBrearty came off the bench and fired over two scores in quick succession but, like his manager, he had no complaints.

"I wouldn't say we feel it's a chance blown but our performance today probably wasn't good enough to win the All-Ireland," said the Kilcar man.

"On our performances all summer, maybe but judging on the 70 minutes, it just wasn't good enough. We probably never looked like winning the game. The blame will be shared equally by all of us."

He acknowledged however that they looked as if they had steadied things at half-time.

"We felt we were still in the game. We felt we were in a good place then. When they got the goal and they started tagging on a few points they were always going to be hard to tie down.

"We were probably in control of the game at that stage but these things can happen in All-Ireland finals. We never grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. It was really disappointing."

Kerry's set-up had not surprised him.

"We expected that. It's frustrating when you are beaten by your own tactics but fair dues, the best team won, no complaints," said McBrearty whose brother was on the losing minor team earlier in the day.

McGuinness has urged players not to make any snap decisions about the future and he will take time himself before deciding if he wants to extend his time beyond the original four years agreed which are now complete.

"I'll take my time now and I'll think about this. I did that last year and the year before," he said.

But with players like Rory Kavanagh openly admitting he had to think long and hard about coming back for another season, there must be doubts about the group sticking together this time.

"I'll think about my own position," said McGuinness. "I will think about the players and the squad that we have, do we want to move forward, motivation, family...all these things come into it.

"And then you make a decision that's right," he said. "I don't think today is a day to make any decision, whether you're staying or you're not staying and I've never done that."

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