"He comes from Glenties man
He's winning plenty man
He got more medals than an
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We've beaten Kerry man
We've beaten Derry man
We beatin' anyone we meeting in the final man
His destiny is not just written in the sand
He got a plan, he's no lucky, lucky man
Oh Jimmy's winning matches
Jimmy's winning games
Jimmy's bringing Sam back to Donegal again!"
'Jimmy's Winning Matches' - Rory and The Island
It will be ten years in September since Colm McFadden sat in the Cusack Stand watching Cork and Down duke it out for Sam Maguire while alienating himself from the prospect of ever playing in an All-Ireland final with Donegal.
Just three months earlier, he sat dejected in a Crossmaglen dugout after one of the darkest moments in his county's footballing history when they were obliterated by Armagh and sent packing from the Qualifiers at the first hurdle.
What should have been a special occasion marking his 100th appearance for Donegal - a ceremonial plate was to be presented after the game to mark the milestone - turned into a nightmare as they hit rock bottom and spent the summer licking their wounds.
"I remember being up at Cork and Down in 2010 and thinking, 'Jesus, to play in an All-Ireland final would be unbelievable', and at the time we were miles away, I probably never thought it was going to happen," McFadden recalls.
Seismic movements were taking place that would quickly change his thought process, however, with his brother-in-law Jim McGuinness finally getting a chance to take the reins, at the third attempt, when succeeding John Joe Doherty having brought the Donegal U-21s to the All-Ireland final earlier that year.
McFadden and other senior squad members had a "craving" for someone like McGuinness to take them by the scruff of the neck and they formally set out on their journey with an initial meeting in Rosapenna Bay Hotel, Downings on November 6.
"We knew it was going to be tough but it was definitely something that we were ready for. I was chatting to Rory Kavanagh in the gym one night and we were at that stage where we were mad for someone to come in and tell us what to do. We just wanted direction," McFadden recalls.
"We were happy enough to train every morning and evening and do it hard, do whatever it took to try and be successful. He probably got us at a good time because we were hungry, we were mad to do anything to win something and we got our wish when Jim came in."
With the panel at their lowest ebb, McGuinness started from scratch and slowly began to peel back their inadequacies before picking their confidence off the floor and boldly proclaiming that they would be Ulster champions the following summer.
They would not be a soft touch under his stewardship and while McFadden and Co "hoped it would happen", things started to become reality and they "really started to believe when training and games began".
Mental fitness is a by-product of physical conditioning and while they were put through a punishing regime under McGuinness and S&C coach Adam Speer, McFadden started to revel in the unique demands which training necessitated.
"I remember chatting to Karl Lacey and Michael Murphy and we were saying that we knew going into games that we just weren't going to be beat. We had that belief and that came from the training ground and how hard we trained," the St Michael's attacker says.
"Jim's philosophy was that the training sessions would always be harder than the games and that was true, our training sessions were really tough. I remember driving up to training and you'd be a wee bit nervous in the car.
"But I remember always looking forward to it and every single training session was enjoyable. When you are pushed to the limit and we were at an age that our bodies were responding to it, you could see yourself improving and getting fitter and we were learning all the time."
Their opening 2011 Division 2 league encounter against Sligo on a cold February night in Ballybofey sticks out in McFadden's mind as they started to eliminate any mental frailties when battling back to draw in the dying seconds despite playing with 14 men.
Division 2 glory would follow with a one-point victory over Laois at the end of April and with Division 1 football assured for the following season, they strode into the summer with a spring in their step and never missed a beat.
Victories over Antrim, Cavan, a gruelling effort against Tyrone and defeat of Down in the Ulster final left the Anglo-Celt Cup in the hands of the man-child Michael Murphy, just 21 at the time but trusted to help end a 19-year wait for provincial success.
An epic extra-time defeat of Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final - when veteran defender Kevin Cassidy kicked a screamer from distance to clinch it - set up a clash with Dublin which will forever be discussed in GAA circles.
Their defensive tactics were something from left-field. Few had ever pondered such a strategy as they retreated behind the ball with McFadden the loneliest man in Croke Park as he played in a one-man forward line as others funnelled back to block the scoring zone.
It upset many with Kerry legend Pat Spillane describing it as "shiite football" (a reference to the Shia Muslims) but McFadden cared little about outside perceptions and they led 0-4 to 0-2 at the break having played the game on their own terms.
Playing with double-sweepers throughout and surging into a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage, Donegal bossed affairs but just couldn't finish the job with an All-Ireland final place slipping agonisingly from their grasp.
There were "no reservations" about following such tactics - quite the contrary with McFadden, deputy principal at St Eunan's College in Letterkenny, describing it as his "most enjoyable defeat" given the stress which they put the Dubs under.
"We were hard to break down and we all worked as a unit with the forwards working back. Before that, you might have tracked your man a little bit but when Jim came in, our job was to tackle back the whole way and cut off at a certain point," he says.
"We weren't defensive, we were just working hard and it ended up looking that way. The Dublin game was the day that we went ultra-defensive. It's probably one of the most enjoyable games, definitely the most enjoyable defeat because it was something different.
"We weren't afraid to go for it. I remember Alan Brogan kicking from 45 metres out on the sideline in front of the Hogan Stand and it went miles wide. It was a wild place to shoot from but they were just flustered and they didn't know what to do.
"Players like that getting flustered was exciting because they never came up against something like that before and they were stuck for ideas. We weren't too bothered about it (the negative commentary on their playing style).
"We were coming back and we were competitive; when you think where we were the year before, you'd rather go up and be in a game and be competitive rather than being hammered in the first round of the back door."
The soul-destroying feeling in the dressing room left him thinking: "I would just love to get back to this again and just get another chance to be in an All-Ireland final". He was hungry for more and vowed to return better than ever.
As did McGuinness, who would be armed with a modified game-plan.
One player that wouldn't return, however, was Cassidy as the 2011 All-Star received his marching orders from McGuinness in the off-season after contributing to Declan Bogue's magnificent book 'This is Our Year: A Season on the Inside of a Football Championship'.
McGuinness saw his distribution of information from inside the camp as a betrayal and there would be no peace made.
Donegal would soldier on without one of their most-prized assets, while Michael Hegarty, another county stalwart, hung up his boots at the end of 2011.
While "it was tough to lose Kevin", McFadden knew that his manager's "hands were tied" and they ploughed ahead without the two-time All-Star defender as they sought to soar higher in 2012.
"It was a tough decision but we knew Jim's hands were tied. Before that in Donegal, the team would be named and it'd nearly be in the paper before you even knew you were on the team," he says.
"Anything that happened in training sessions, be it rows ... any team that's competitive will have them when players want to win, those stories would be out in Donegal media before we'd even leave the training ground.
"It's one thing Jim did when he came in, he kept things tight. 'What happens in here stays in here and we don't let things out'.
"We knew things were progressing and moving forward and we weren't telling what we were doing to people or what we were working on.
"I never read the book or read any pieces on it. I didn't purposely not read it. I know myself what was going on and happening so I didn't need to read about it.
"It was disappointing to have a setback but at the same time, Jim had our support.
"Sometimes setbacks, not that you want them to happen but they can make you stronger and it did gel us together a bit more after that. We knuckled down and we stuck together and pushed on for the year ahead."
Their Division 1 league spot was maintained with a final-round defeat of Armagh but "the real confidence came when we won back-to-back Ulster titles" - the first county to do so from the preliminary round - and the All-Ireland became a real possibility.
He remembers listening to the radio and sighing when the quarter-final draw pitted them against traditional aristocrats Kerry but they stuck to their game-plan and got the job done before a similarly impressive semi-final defeat of Cork.
Having watched the Rebels in awe two years earlier, McFadden would realise his dream of representing Donegal on All-Ireland final day, and not only that but he would plunder 1-4 as an early barrage kept Mayo at arm's length on their way to the summit.
He remembers "nearly wishing the game away and thinking, 'Is this over yet so we can be champions?'" after they coasted into a 2-1 to no score lead after 12 minutes and while there was turbulence thereafter, nothing could stop them.
He picked up his sole All-Star that winter as well as being nominated for Footballer of the Year alongside eventual winner Lacey and defender Frank McGlynn in a clean sweep for Donegal.
Jimmy hadn't just won matches, he had won everything there was on offer and the hearts and minds of his county.
"To think where we came from and where we got to, it was surreal. To get that opportunity two years later, it's mad when you look back at it but you listened to Jim and listened to his plans and you hoped it would happen," McFadden says.
"You started to believe when we started training and playing games.
"It built from training session to training session and game to game and as time went by, you started to believe even more and dreams started to become reality."
There were several factors that combined to make 2013 a write-off: an All-Ireland hangover, injuries, fatigue as well as trying to juggle club and county commitments and while the will was there, there was no way they could succeed.
There would be no Ulster hat-trick as defeats of Tyrone and Down papered over the cracks before the dam burst against Monaghan in the provincial decider and Mayo avenged their All-Ireland final reversal with a 16-point drubbing in the last eight.
Their response the following season would leave reverberations that are still being felt today as they regrouped with McGuinness shuffling his backroom team after disagreements with coach Rory Gallagher and they returned rejuvenated.
Defeats of Derry, Antrim and Monaghan made it three provincial crowns in four years and while it was a struggle to get over Armagh in the last eight, McGuinness had hatched a plan for one of the greatest shocks in GAA history.
Renewing his rivalry with Jim Gavin - who was at the helm when Dublin defeated Donegal in the 2010 All-Ireland U-21 final - had infatuated McGuinness and he had plotted behind the scenes for his chance to derail the Dubs.
"We didn't perform well against Armagh and went into the changing rooms and Jim came in. He said he had a plan and he knows how to beat Dublin, he's been watching them for two years and studying them, he knows how we're going to beat them," McFadden recalls.
"He said, 'We'll be starting tomorrow night' and you did believe him. Then when you start the training sessions, you really started believing and when you're watching the videos and working on things in training sessions and that.
"It was easy to buy into what he was saying then because we'd had three years of belief behind him at that stage. I remember Dublin were ten to one on (1/10) and Donegal minus two (-2) was 20/1. I had a good look at it but I stopped, I never bet on any games I was playing in.
"I would look at the odds and that and I remember Ryan McHugh was 80/1 to be first goalscorer and I thought, 'Jesus, I'd be betting on that' because we were training and he was getting in behind all the time for goals.
"I remember then when he scored and I was thinking about the odds and a few of the boys did have him because it was obvious what we were working on in training and he was likely to be one of the lads coming in for a goal."
McHugh came of age, firing 2-2 as they weathered an early Dublin storm to dethrone the reigning champions in an upset which altered the course of history as Gavin's Dubs would bounce back and remain unbeaten in championship action en route to an unprecedented All-Ireland five-in-a-row ('15-'19).
McFadden finds it "hard to believe" that the Dubs have maintained a perfect record since that fateful August day six years ago but like all great sides, they haven't allowed history to repeat itself after that harrowing loss.
"It is hard to believe that the Dubs haven't been beaten since then but it is a bit like us playing Dublin in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final, we learned a lot from that and it made us the team that could be successful a year later.
"Dublin learned that they had certain weaknesses and they worked on those weaknesses and they haven't been caught out on them since. The media often say that it changed the face of football forever but you have to give them credit."
There would be no fairytale finish to the McGuinness era, however, as Kerry - having edged Mayo after an epic semi-final replay - radically altered their approach for the final and played Donegal at their own game. People rarely get to leave on their own terms and the irony that Donegal are often remembered for their semi-final displays rather than their All-Ireland triumph in '12 isn't lost on McFadden.
"It's funny. That Donegal team won an All-Ireland and three Ulster titles but the game people always talk about is the Dublin game in 2014 and the impact that it had.
"They're always on about it and it's the first one that comes to mind for many people.
"Not the All-Ireland but the semi-finals. It was a massive result, it's just a pity that it wasn't a final and that we didn't get over the line the next day. It never finishes the way you want and Jim Gavin is the only manager that ever finished it the way he wanted to finish it.
"Kerry had their homework done. They went under the radar a bit whereas we were after beating the Dubs and were highly fancied. You're probably better to come in the way Kerry came in with no fanfare but, credit to them, they were the better team on the day."
Donegal chairman Seán Dunnion described McGuinness as "a special talent with a particular rare gift in inspiring those around him" when he stepped down the following month as the most successful chapter in the county's history came to a close.
McFadden's star would not soar as high as those heady days of '12 before his county career came to a close after their 2016 All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to the Dubs but he would leave a legacy for the ages behind him.
Donegal's record appearance (170 - 64 in championship) and scoring holder (25-434) bowed out after 14 years of service, and considering his thoughts that day in Croke Park nearly a decade ago, he didn't finish up with a bad haul.
"I'm just lucky to have been part of that great team. If you had said to me ten years ago when I was sitting watching Cork play Down that I'd have three Ulster medals and an All-Ireland, it's not a bad career to look back on."