Donegal manager McGuinness wary of Kerry's class
His county may have put back-to-back Ulster titles together for the first time in their history, but Donegal manager Jim McGuinness emphasises that their unprecedented provincial success will guarantee them nothing against Kerry on Sunday.
A rejuvenated Kingdom await in an All-Ireland quarter-final tie that has already captured the imagination of the entire country and McGuinness is quick to outline the dangers which they will pose.
“They bring great experience to the table and they have the fitness, craft and staying power that are so necessary for success at this level,” insists McGuinness, ahead of the Croke Park encounter.
“We are focussing strongly on our own preparations, but we have to take into account the manner in which Kerry play the game and generally go about their business.”
And McGuinness pinpoints one match above all others which he believes encourages both he and his players to focus even more strongly on the enormity of Sunday’s task.
“When we played Tyrone in the Ulster semi-final they asked big questions of us and we were just so glad to come out on the right side,” he said.
“Tactically that was as tough as it has ever been for us. They stuck to their own game plan and never let up.
“Yet when that same Tyrone played Kerry in the third round of the qualifiers the Kingdom won by 10 points so that shows you what we face.”
It was the outstretched leg of Donegal goalkeeper Paul Durcan which helped to deflect a Martin Penrose goal-bound shot to safety in the dying seconds of the Tyrone game that ultimately secured a two-point victory for McGuinness’ men.
“Every time the Tyrone team has been questioned, Mickey Harte has been able to come up with answers,” points out McGuinness.
“And while they maybe did not do this against Kerry, nonetheless we have to absorb lessons from that game between those sides and apply them on Sunday.”
It was Kerry’s emphatic performance against the Red Hands on Saturday week last which lent a whole new dimension to the All-Ireland title race after they had appeared to have slipped off the radar when they could only squeeze past lowly Westmeath in their previous qualifier by a solitary point.
Now McGuinness will pit his wits against Jack O’Connor conscious that victory would thrust his side even more firmly into the frame for ‘Sam’.
“We knew that when Tyrone set up with seven in their defence that it was going to be difficult for us to play against them and it will be no different against Kerry,” said McGuinness.
“They are capable of playing the most attractive attacking football that you are likely to see, but they can also defend very efficiently as they showed against Tyrone, especially as the match wore on.”