Saturday 24 February 2018

McGuinness: We blew chance for perfect final

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Jim McGuinness was annoyed with his players for the first time in two years of managing them at half-time in the All-Ireland final against Mayo, he has revealed.

McGuinness felt the anger because he felt his players had blown the opportunity for the "perfect" final.

Admitting the early goal rush was planned on the training field, he said their deviation from the game plan could have cost them.

"I was cross at half-time for the first time in the two years I have been involved because we had put ourselves in a very strong position and I really wanted the game to be perfect for the boys," he said.

"I felt we could have got ourselves in a position where we could have created that (perfect game).

"We started doing things then during the game that we normally wouldn't do. We started doing things that weren't part of the game plan. We lost our focus.

"We were in too good a position after 10 or 15 minutes, maybe.

"That was the plan. We were hoping for a good start. We were hoping there would have been goals. We were talking about one before the game and possibly two if we did everything right and approached our work in the correct way.

"What created the goals in the first place, we stopped doing that and started taking alternative options on the ball in certain areas of the field that wasn't part of what we prepared for.

"When people start doing that then others say 'why he is doing that?' and 'why is he not doing what he should be doing?' That's where the wheels can come off a wee bit.

"What annoyed me was we had created exactly what we wanted to create and it was only a matter of continuing on. We had created a very good situation based on what we had prepared for. It was only a matter of being professional and seeing the thing through."

McGuinness (below) admitted he had been overwhelmed by the response from the Donegal public during a three-day tour of the county with the Sam Maguire Cup and added that he never once contemplated losing.

"I never had a nerve in my body in the lead up to the game, before the game, the day of the game, during the game or after it.

"I just believed that if they did the job to the way they can do the job, we'd be successful.

"They had been very focused and very level-headed and down to earth in everything they had done in the previous two years. I didn't see how the wheels would come off psychologically for them, that they would get ahead of themselves.

"I thought they would continue on in the same vein that they had been in. From that point of view it was just a game of football."

He defended his right not to conduct the post-match press conference until the journalist Declan Bogue, who wrote the book 'This Is Or Year', a chronicle of the 2011 Ulster championship, was out of the room.

"There were a lot of things said and a lot of things written about me personally and some of the players in the squad that weren't true," he claimed once again.

Agreeing it was a "fair point" when it was suggested to him that he might have been better not raising the matter again, McGuinness said he had to stand up for himself.

"You have to stand up for yourself and say if this fella can write x, y and z and then expect to come in and fill their pages on the back of our success after an All-Ireland final -- there's a double standard there for me and for that reason I wasn't happy to do the interview."

Irish Independent

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