Jim McGuinness: 'Donegal have marquee forwards'
By William Dunne
It has been six years since Jim McGuinness was gearing up ahead of his first ever Championship match in charge of Donegal senior footballers.
In 2012 Donegal were crowned All-Ireland champions for only the second time in their history and the squad rallied once again in 2014 only to be beaten by Kerry at the final hurdle.
Since he stepped down in 2014 several members of the All-Ireland winning squad have retired from the game and last winter was no different as players such as Rory Kavanagh, Christy Toye, Eamon McGee and Colm McFadden have all hung up their boots from inter-county football, however McGuinness is adamant that Donegal possess one, if not two, of the sports most valuable assets.
“What we have that a lot of other teams don’t have is we’ve marquee forwards”, McGuinness noted.
“I think teams that have won an All-Ireland have a Michael Murphy, a Colm McFadden, a Paddy McBrearty in their ranks. I think if you go through all the teams that have won an All-Ireland they have that.
“The Gooch, Peter Canavan you know they have these players that are a level above their peers if you like. Top teams need that and luckily we've got that.”
This Sunday Ballybofey will play host to Donegal’s Ulster quarter-final with Antrim, the same fixture that kicked off McGuinness’ four years at the helm of the county’s footballers but plenty has changed in that time.
In 2011 Donegal were without a provincial win in four years and “expectations were low and the pressure was high on the players”, McGuinness recalled.
“There was a good bit of pressure going into that game and we just tried to manage that via what we were looking to achieve in the performance.
“It’s interesting now going into this game there’s an expectation that Donegal will go into the game by, I don’t know what the handicap will be, 10 points maybe and that’s what we've created if you like.”