Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Donegal strike gold as Jim McGuinness gets hands on Sam

GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness celebrates with players after winning the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Sarah Mc Donald, from Armagh and Naimh Brittan from Ballybofey.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeFans watch the closing stages of the All Ireland Final in the Botanic Inn, Belfast
Mary Bradley closing her BandB to watch the final in Downing Co.Donegal for the Final. Puc By Philip Fitzatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal players console Keith HigginsMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Donal Vaughan dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoLee Keegan of Mayo is consoled by Jason Doherty at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Seamus O'Shea dejected at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoCaptain's Michael Murphy and David Clarke with referee Maurice DeeganMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Colm McFadden celebrates scoring a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMichael Murphy of Donegal scores the first goal of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Paddy McGrath and Aidan O'Shea of MayoMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Kevin, Meabh and Marie Connolly watch the All Ireland on the big screen at Belfast City Hall.
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone get ready to watch the All Ireland final from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Tracey Donaghy from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone, Orlaith Kerlin from Aughabrack, Co Tyrone and Bronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy lifts the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo's Aidan O'Shea dejectedMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoMayo manager James Horan reacts during the final moments of the matchMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal captain Michael Murphy raises the Sam MaguireMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoGoalkeeper Paul Durcan and Donegal players celebrate at the final whistleMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDavid Walsh (top) and team mates jump on goalkeeper Paul Durcan at the end of the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer *** Local Caption ***
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal manager Jim McGuinness and Michael Murphy celebrate after the gameMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's winning manager from 1992 Brian McEniff and Donegal manager Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012Donegal vs MayoDonegal's Michael Murphy scores a goalMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy *** Local Caption ***
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Ronan Mc Parlandfrom Hilltown, Oisin Mc Kee from Kilcarr, Cahal O' Grady from Kilcarand r Ruairi Keenan from Donegal Town.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / PresseyeBronagh Conwell from Donemanna watch the All Ireland from the Hatfield Bar, Ormeau Road Belfast
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal fans celebrating the victory of the Donegal team in the All-Ireland final with Mayo in Downings, Co Donegal. Pic by Philip Fitzpatrick
Donegal's Jim McGuinness is congratulated with fans
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town shops. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Paddy McGrath is hungry for success and wants to get his hands on an All-Ireland medal
US President Barrack Obama, whose ancesters came from Mayo, supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey shop window, Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the more novel ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A giant bear is just one of the more inventive ways Donegal fans are showing their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
Donegal fans, Gertrude Kelly, Anthony McLaighlin and Marian Kelly pictured in Malin ahead of this weekends All Ireland final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Two sheep outside Malin which have been dyed in Donegal County colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final and one dyed with the red and green colours of County Mayo. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A message painted on a field outside Malin village in County Donegal refering to Jim McGuinness, manager of the All Ireland finalists. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
The Carman's Bar outside Muff, County Donegal which has been painted in the county colours ahead of this weekends all Ireland Final. PIcture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Muff businessman Peter McLaughlin whose business Donegal Signs, has boomed in the days leading up to this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin © please by-line
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, with the celebration cake in a Donegal Town bakery. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
A flag seller sets out his wares for Donegal's All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Ballybofey Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final, Croke Park 26/8/2012Cork vs Donega lDonegal's Mark McHugh celebrates the final whistle
Donegal Football Press Night, Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal 4/9/2012 Paddy McGrath
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Caravan outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 From L-R Phelim Brady, Declan Breslin and Tom McHugh and Conor Cassidy with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Declan Breslin with a painted car in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 The scotsman Bar in Donegal Town
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 Catriona Ward from Dungloe in Co Donegal
Pacemaker Press 14/9/2012 A painted Car outside Bundoran in Co Donegal
Support from the Garda for the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
The Diamond in Donegal Town where the team will return to following their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
One of the messages of support in Letterkenny County Donegal as fans show their support for the county team ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 20.09.12
A good luck message spelt out in white sand bags which dominates the hills around Malin village in County Donegal ahead of this weekends All Ireland Final. Picture Martin McKeown. Inprespics.com.
County Donegal GAA fan Fiona McHenry from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
A woman passes a mural supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
Supporting the Donegal team for their All Ireland Final clash against Mayo, in Donegal Town. Picture Margaret McLaughlin ©
County Donegal GAA fan Robert Bredin from Moville. PIcture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Stones mark out the Malin Head community's support and confidence that the County Donegal team will win the All Ireland Final. Picture Martin Mckeown. Inpresspics.com. 19.9.12
Cork vs Donegal Donegal fans Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Bredagh Breslin from Creeslough, Co. Donegal beside a mural of Jim McGuinnessMandatory Credit ©INPHO/Kieran Murray
Mark McHugh fulfils a vital role at |the heart of Donegal’s tactical blueprint

Donegal 2-11 0-13 Mayo: The Donegal project has been completed -- for the present at least.

Jim McGuinness will no doubt launch a new one over the next few months but for now the manager, his squad and the whole of Donegal can bask in the warm glow generated by an All-Ireland triumph that was constructed so painstakingly over the past two years.

The climb started from a very low base after Donegal exited the 2010 championship with barely a whimper of defiance against Armagh in an All-Ireland qualifier.

McGuinness' appointment as manager some weeks later raised hopes of an upward graph, but nobody could have foreseen that by September 2012, Donegal would be double Ulster champions and, even more importantly, that Sam Maguire would be on his way to the north-west for only the second time in championship history.

The famous trophy will undertake that journey today after Donegal locked Mayo back into the house of pain in an All-Ireland final where the agenda was set early on. Fortunately for Donegal, they were the trend-setters, hitting Mayo for 2-1 in the first 11 minutes.

Seven-point leads are rarely wiped out in All-Ireland football finals and while Mayo did their best to make amends for the early defensive frailties, the workload proved too much.

They had deducted four points from the deficit by half-time to trail by three (2-4 to 0-7) but that was as good as it got for the Connacht champions, who lost the second half by 0-7 to 0-6.

Two phases will come under close scrutiny when Mayo begin yet another painful post All-Ireland debrief. The opening 15 minutes of the first half was a total mess for Mayo whose attempt to end the 61-year wait for a fourth All-Ireland title was all but wrecked by sloppy defending.

The first 10 minutes of the second half was also hugely influential as Mayo kicked three wides from good chances at a time when they trailed by four points. Those two periods won't make for pretty viewing when James Horan revisits a DVD that's certain to warm many a cold night in Donegal this winter.

Michael Murphy's thundering goal in the third minute, scored after he collected an accurate delivery from marauding centre-back Karl Lacey was a hugely stabilising agent for Donegal and there was more to come eight minutes later when Colm McFadden hit their second goal.

He had pointed a free in between but it was his goal which really electrified Donegal's effort. It was an opportunist finish after a shot by Patrick McBrearty had hit the post and the ball had squirted away from Mayo defender Kevin Keane.

It was a cruel break for Mayo who had justifiable grounds for feeling hard done by just before Donegal broke upfield and scored that precious goal. Cillian O'Connor appeared to have been fouled as he bore down on the Donegal goal, but referee Maurice Deegan saw it differently, much to Mayo's disappointment.

Donegal would have had a third goal in the 13th minute but for a brilliant save by David Clarke from a McFadden shot. At that stage it really did look as if Mayo were headed for a defeat of 2006 proportions (they lost heavily to Kerry) but, to their credit, they arrested the slide and settled into a rhythm which asked real questions of Donegal.

Aidan O'Shea and Barry Moran improved their take around midfield, Kevin McLoughlin began making progress down the right and with Donegal's error count rising, Mayo gradually worked their way back into contention. They out-scored Donegal by 0-5 to 0-1 over the final 15 minutes of the first half in a haul that included two inspiring points from Michael Conroy and Enda Varley.

Kicked under enormous pressure, they were the type of scores which would have left Mayo quite confident of completing the recovery in the second half.

However, it was vital for them to start the second half in the same positive vein they closed out the opening period, but it was Donegal who made the early breaks with points from McFadden (free) and Frank McGlynn, separated by one from an O'Connor free.

McGlynn's point summed up the maturity that Donegal bring to their game nowadays.

The attack-minded corner-back had a chance to shoot from a reasonably good position but thought better of it, opting instead to continue the move with another pass which enabled Donegal to work -- closer to the Mayo goal.

McGlynn was still in the vicinity when the next shooting opportunity arose and he fired over the bar to take his championship return this season to 1-4, quite a contribution from a No 4.

Trailing by four points after 40 minutes, Mayo were about to enter a phase which cost them dearly. Three times in five minutes they had scoreable shots at goal but Barry Moran, Varley (free) and Conroy shot wide.

It meant that Donegal emerged from one of their shakiest periods with a four-point lead which they extended to five when Michael Murphy, who played a captain's part in the success, pointed a free in the 47th minute.

The sides exchanged two points each, over the next 10 minutes taking them into the final 10 minutes with Donegal leading by 2-9 to 0-10. By then, Mayo had replaced three of their starting forwards and despatched Aidan O'Shea to full-forward in an effort to prise a goal opening.

However, with the Donegal defence at its vigilant best, Mayo found it very difficult to open the approach routes to Paul Durcan's goal. They had one late chance but sub Seamus O'Shea had his effort blocked.

It was to be Mayo's final flourish and Donegal protected their four-point lead to the end to ensure a thoroughly deserved victory.

It was their 12th win in 13 championship games since May 2011, a period in which their development as a team has been quite remarkable. For all that, they would have surprised at how easy they found it to unlock the Mayo defence early on.

It was generally expected that the opening 15 minutes would be a low-scoring, tentative period during which both sides majored in defence.

Instead, Mayo were uncharacteristically loose, allowing Donegal to unload accurate passes and also getting caught in too many one-on-one situations when extra cover was an essential.

Still, credit to Murphy for the manner in which he finished that early goal. He might have taken the safer option of a point, but instead he opted to trust himself and was richly rewarded as his rocket flew past Clarke.

It set the tone for a golden Donegal period that ultimately won the game. For while Mayo battled back bravely, they were always playing a chasing game.

And, as so many other opponents have discovered, reining in Donegal once they open a lead is a very difficult task, one which proved beyond Mayo's reach on a day when, once again, their application to rejoin the All-Ireland club was rejected.

Scorers -- Donegal: M Murphy (0-3f), C McFadden (0-3f) 1-4 each, R Bradley F McGlynn, N Gallagher 0-1 each. Mayo: C O'Connor 0-5 (5f), K McLoughlin, E Varley (1f) 0-2 each, M Conroy, R Feeney, L Keegan, J Gibbons 0-1 each.

Donegal -- P Durcan; P McGrath, N McGee, F McGlynn; E McGee, K Lacey, A Thompson; N Gallagher, R Kavanagh; M McHugh, L McLoone, R Bradley; P McBrearty, M Murphy, C McFadden. Subs: D Walsh for Bradley (41), M McElhinney for McBrearty (48), C Toye for McLoone (57), D Molloy for McElhinney (72).

Mayo -- D Clarke; K Keane, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; B Moran, A O'Shea; K McLoughlin, J Doherty, A Dillon; E Varley, C O'Connor, M Conroy. Subs: A Freeman for Doherty (50), J Gibbons or Conroy (59), R Feeney for Varley (61), S O'Shea for Moran (70).

REF -- M Deegan (Laois).

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