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O'Donoghue's switch threw a spanner in McGuinness' works


Ryan McMenamin

Ryan McMenamin

Well done: Donegal manager Jim McGuinness congratulates Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice at the end

Ryan McMenamin

As I predicted in Saturday's paper, Kerry brought James O'Donoghue out deep and they opened up space inside. Now, James didn't have the greatest of games but there was something in the consternation that he caused in a withdrawn role that warped Donegal's system.

It appears that fortune does indeed favour the brave!

This was a bit of a pig of a final. It wasn't pretty. There were a lot of misses as both teams looked nervous and never at any stage was it particularly thrilling.

Perhaps both sides ended up in the final unexpectedly. The country was waiting for a Dublin and Mayo final and all of a sudden these two teams found themselves in there.

Take Kerry's second goal. Paul Durcan has been the best goalkeeper of the year, but he had a moment of sheer indecision that gifted Kieran Donaghy the shot on goal.

That sort of mistake is so unfortunate and will get a fair airing on highlight reels in the years to come. In parts of Kerry it may even become as famous as 'The Paddy Cullen' goal, but things like that only happen under extreme stress.

Donegal quickly almost wiped out that advantage and when I expected them to push on, they reverted to how they played Dublin in the 2011 semi-final.

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It allowed Kerry to keep the ball in play for such a long period and they could take the sting out of things.

The whole talk centred around Jim McGuinness and his system. Now, that's not his fault, but some of the things being said can be way over the top.

He is a very smart and astute man, but not enough credit was being given to Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice would have loved that though, being left alone in Kerry to do his own thing and prepare his team with probably a fraction of the hype that existed in Donegal.

I have spoken with Eamonn a few times on All-Star trips and I always came away impressed.

He has such an appreciation of Kerry football and the traditions of it, but he is an ultimate pragmatist, he is a smart man and he had his work done.

He has created a strong, hungry young team and they would have been written off a couple of times over this season, especially without the Gooch.

When Donegal were lauded for their fitness levels, the strongest and fittest team at the end were Kerry. The work Cian O'Neill has done in developing them into a tough outfit, along with the effects of chasing shadows, was in evidence.

A lot of it came down to the fact that the things Donegal were good at in 2012, they weren't good at here.

Their half-back line were brilliant at creating overlaps back then and they were magnificent against Dublin, but Karl Lacey was their most important playmaker in 2012 and he is not at the level he was then.

Did Donegal play their All-Ireland against Dublin?

I think when you put three weeks of training on top of that, they were not able to get there. Maybe Jim got it wrong. You run the risk of being embarrassed by saying something like that, but there was a sense of a team peaking too early, or not being able to bridge the three-week gap from the semi.

When Donegal won the All-Ireland in 2012 they had Colm McFadden firing all year.

He was scoring points he shouldn't have been scoring but from an easy chance yesterday in the second half, he put it wide.

It's been a symptom all year, disguised by massive performances elsewhere on the park. McGuinness kept faith in him though and he was right to, because it was McFadden that had the inventiveness to get his palm on an effort at the very end that could have drawn the game.

But they didn't. And that will haunt this panel over the winter.

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