HomeFootballJim McGuinness keen for Donegal to go on and top group after...

Jim McGuinness keen for Donegal to go on and top group after crushing Tyrone

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“We have to go away and look at Cork tonight before we go to bed and that is the reality,” said McGuinness speaking in the Donegal GAA centre of excellence in Convoy after the team’s seven-point (0-21 to 0-14) demolition of Tyrone in this Group 3 Sam Maguire qualifier.

“We will be having conversations about Cork, the laptop will be open tonight. Cork isn’t an easy place to go and the travel is long, all of that. We just have to do as much as we can.”

McGuinness opted not to speak to the print media immediately after the game. Instead he boarded the team bus which took the squad to Convoy ten miles away to facilitate the players’ recovery which featured ice baths and ice-cream.

​In what he described as the second phase of the championship McGuinness said topping the group is a priority.

“Ultimately, you get a two-week break; if you top the group and that’s a massive carrot. But we’re not thinking that way – we’re thinking about the next game.

“We have no eyes on Clare (the other team in the group). My experience is that if you have one eye on something else you get punched in the other eye.”

McGuinness coached Donegal to three Ulster Championship wins over Tyrone, then managed by Mickey Harte, in his first term as manager.

Now, Harte’s successor Brian Dooher has fallen under McGuinness’s spell after enduring back-to-back losses in the space of a month to their next door neighbours.

In last year’s preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final in Ballybofey, Tyrone eased to a comfortable eight-point win. But, as Dooher acknowledged, Donegal are a different animal now.

“It’s a different Donegal team today, they’ve a lot of men who weren’t there last year, Jim has added a lot of energy to the group.”

Dooher still believes Tyrone can reach the last 12 again.

“Realistically, what we’re looking for. It’s good we have a match next week again to get things back on track. We’ll look forward to Clare next weekend at home.

“There’s no point in feeling too sorry for ourselves. We have to dust ourselves down and go again.”

Tyrone clung on in the first half but their second-half washout was as traumatic for their small contingent of supporters among the 16,607 attendance as the collapse of the Wi-Fi network throughout Ballybofey was to the media working at the game.

Dooher’s men surely sensed it wasn’t going to be their evening when goalkeeper Niall Morgan made two spectacular high catches only to be penalised by referee Joe McQuillan costing his side two points.

On another evening Darragh Canavan might have scored 1-2. Instead, he was held scoreless from play by Brendan McCole and registered four wides.

Meanwhile, Donegal had ten different scorers in their most complete performance in championship 2024.

“The Ulster Championship is an absolute cauldron and even though it was another Ulster team tonight the heaviness of the Ulster Championship wasn’t there,” said McGuinness.

“We felt that it was just fantastic to get over the line in Ulster and that we would be buoyed by that. There was nothing wrong with our energy levels.

“I think we played tonight for the first time all year with that sense of energy and abandonment at times because we won Ulster.”

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