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Donegal focus is now on battle for Sam, says Jim McGuinness

By John Campbell

The unconfined joy expressed by the Donegal players and manager Jim McGuinness at the end of this game was quickly put back into the bottle in time for the post-match Press conference.

Asked about his own level of satisfaction for this performance, he answered, "It rates absolutely nowhere because we have got three weeks to prepare for the All-Ireland final and if we get beat in that it will be crushing.

"I know that Kerry are thinking the same. That's sport ... "

There was always a sense that this was the battle of footballing philosophies but when they came up against each other in 2011, attack won out.

So what changed?

"Three years ago we delivered a fantastic defensive performance but we only scored six points," said the 41-year-old.

"So we had to look at that.

"We did in 2012 in terms of moving our game forward. We knew Dublin were going to score and probably score heavy because they normally do.

"They are very, very difficult to contain. So we had to be very positive ourselves and go and try and win the match."

He continued, "I think once we started getting a couple of turnovers and then on the back of getting the turnovers we started pushing on with a bit more intent, it was a wee bit too lethargic and our decision making was off because we needed energy, we needed pace, we needed men with a bit of intent.

"When we got that the game started to open up for us and that fuelled confidence."

And now, onto Kerry, where McGuinness attended Tralee IT and who won a Sigerson with during his college years.

He has referenced them many times before, and said here, "We talked about game intelligence and Kerry probably lead the way in terms of game intelligence over the last how many decades.

"I played down there myself for two years with the college. They have really good decision makers.

"Most of the players are two- footed. They play a lovely brand of football.

"They are going to bring all that experience and craft to the game the next day.

"It's a dream final in many respects for Donegal and it's particularly a dream final when the minors are there as well."

And a final word on Ryan McHugh, if you don't mind.

"Phenomenal. He's been excellent the whole year through. His decision making is top, top drawer.

"He's only a light lad but he can make good decisions, he has great agility – if you go into tackle him, and that's part of Dublin's gameplan to stop you coming out with the ball, if you go into tackle him too forcefully that wee shimmy is there and he'll go by you.

"Himself and Odhran MacNiallais have given the team a huge lift and so has Jigger (Darach O'Connor), I know he didn't see a lot of game time but those players have made a big, big impact for us.

"We're just delighted, delighted to be in the All-Ireland final and we'll quickly refocus on three weeks time," McGuinness then added.

What could Dublin manager Jim Gavin do, only hold his hands up and say, "I'm just disappointed for the players to be honest.

"I know the level of preparation they put into this game was phenomenal and I couldn't question their determination, their commitment and their resolve to the bitter end to keep going at it.

"But all credit to Donegal for a fantastic performance by them. They are justifiable winners," the Dublin manager said.

"They controlled the ball very well and put us under a lot of pressure and went hard at us and they took their goal chances and that's a credit to them and how they set themselves up," Gavin added.

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