GAA: Donegal manager Jim McGuinness working on system to counteract Dublin
Last Updated: 29/08/14 1:05pm
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness
Jim McGuinness admits Donegal face a big challenge in trying to stop Dublin’s forward line.
The counties meet at Croke Park on Sunday in a repeat of the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final. On that occasion, McGuinness’ side implemented an ultra-defensive system but lost 0-8 to 0-6, with just two of Dublin’s scores coming from open play.
The Dubs have been much more prolific this season and McGuinness says Donegal must be switched on defensively if they are to reach their second All-Ireland final in three years.
“The one thing that Dublin have added is the number of shots they are getting off 45, 46, 47 consistently,” said McGuinness.
"We have to get ourselves right. We have been working on things since earlier in the year and trying to get things right and develop a system that hopefully make us a better team and more efficient."
“They are relentless in terms of their approach and they ask a wild lot of questions. We know that they are very fit, strong, well organised and they have got their system well down the track in terms of their development.
“I don’t see much more improvement in their system or movement in their system from here on in. They are probably 85 or 90 per cent where they want to be because it is so fluid you can see the patterns and you can see what they are doing and their support play.
“It’s really impressive. They are very far down the track in terms of development. They have a great age profile and they are hungry for it so it’s a big challenge.”
Goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton is everything to Dublin, according to McGuinness.
“I don’t think there is anybody to touch Stephen Cluxton,” he said. “Dublin look for between 70-85 per cent retention of their kickouts and that’s unheard of in Gaelic football.”
Much of the McGuinness way will be defensive but the majority of his approach is in the mind. Like any elite coach that survives, he seeks to empower players.
“We have to get ourselves right. We have been working on things since earlier in the year and trying to get things right and develop a system that hopefully make us a better team and more efficient.
Dublin v Donegal
Live on Sky Sports 3
“We can’t just disregard them now just because we’re playing Dublin. It wouldn’t work and it wouldn’t be good for the players because psychologically it would throw them.
“They have been fantastic. Give them information and they will try and deliver it to the best of their ability. Some of it is only a loose framework which means that they have to make their own decisions within it.
“The point we scored the last day to win the match (against Armagh) there is no coaching involved there. That’s decision-making. You have got to give people that flexibility and we are very fortunate to have the group of players we have.”
The McGuinness era in Donegal is already the greatest in the county’s proud football history, winning three of last four Ulster titles and an All-Ireland.
What makes them so special in a provincial context is their ability to rise from last year’s defeat to Monaghan and regain the Anglo-Celt Cup.
Now comes the most evolved team in the all the land, a team attempting the opposite of their approach. Both are closing in on greatness.
“We’ll need to be on our toes from the first minute against Dublin,” said McGuinness. “We’ll need to implement our own game plan from the very first minute.”
Watch Dublin v Donegal live on Sky Sports 2 on Sunday from 3pm