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Donegal's target to get more scores on the board

By John Campbell

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness may have watched his Ulster Championship quarter-final opponents Derry being humbled by Dublin on Sunday but he will certainly not be extracting any comfort from their downfall.

Instead, McGuinness is busy putting his own house in order – more precisely, addressing what is a surprising lack of potency in his hitherto much-vaunted attack.

In last year's Ulster final capitulation to Monaghan, Colm McFadden was the only starting Donegal forward who scored.

The Letterkenny schoolteacher landed 0-4 of his team's meagre 0-7 total with defender Frank McGlynn, midfield ace Rory Kavanagh and substitute Ryan McHugh the other scorers.

Donegal's lack of firepower on that occasion was deemed a temporary blip. Yet when they met Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, they lost by 4-17 to 1-10 with Michael Murphy (0-6) and McFadden (1-0) landing the bulk of their scores.

Fast forward to this year and the Donegal malaise was again very much in evidence when they lost to Down in the league at Newry, 1-9 to 0-10, a match in which McGuinness endured huge frustration with chance after chance squandered.

"There's no doubt about which area of our game we have to work on," he rapped.

They may well have been undertaking shooting practice in the interim but this has failed to yield any sort of dividend if the feeble finishing which led to the 1-16 to 1-10 savaging by Monaghan in Sunday's Division Two final is a gauge. Donegal scored just two points from play in each half, the bulk of their total coming from placed balls.

Their goal arrived via a Michael Murphy penalty and the same player contributed three points from frees while McFadden potted a similar number of frees.

No wonder McGuinness has much to ponder as he steps up preparations for the Ulster showdown with Derry on May 25.

"Obviously we need to be getting a better return on the chances that we are creating," he says.

"Against Monaghan on Sunday I felt we were in a good position but then we lost Rory Kavanagh to a red card," states McGuinness.

"It was a two-point game at that stage and we had the wind at our backs. We could have pushed on and won the game but we were left with too much to do."

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