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McGuinness believes Donegal’s new-found confidence comes from mental strength

By John Campbell

A more expansive strategy yielding impressive totals against Cavan, Derry and Tyrone has been hailed as the key element in Donegal’s surge to the Ulster Championship final against Down.

But manager Jim McGuinness believes that another factor has played a big part in thrusting his side into the favourites’ role for Sunday’s Clones showdown.

“I like to think that we are mentally stronger now,” he said.

“We have grown accustomed to winning matches and I think this is being reflected more and more in the way in which we play.”

McGuinness recalled starting last year against a backdrop of uncertainty and, indeed, fear.

“We were worried about facing Antrim in Ballybofey and we certainly did not believe we would win against Tyrone in the semi-final.

“But those wins gave us a bit of confidence going into the final against Derry,” he said.

Since then Donegal have ma

tured into a highly motivated and disciplined outfit — and their sights are set high again this year.

“Obviously we want to retain the Ulster title and maybe have another crack at the All-Ireland crown,” said McGuinness.

“I think our mindset is now much more positive. The difference this year is that when we played Tyrone in the semi-final last month we expected to win the game and even though they gave us an unbelievable challenge we still came out on top.

“You would have to say that they were the better team in the first-half. We knew that they would come at us really hard but the experience we gained last year stood to us, we kept our heads and won the match.

“Our approach is different this time but that does not mean we are taking anything for granted. Our attitude now comes from winning but we know that we are guaranteed nothing.

“We are going in against a Down side that has not won the Ulster title for 18 years so you can imagine how hungry they will be.”

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