Donegal manager Jim McGuinness finds it unfathomable, the amount of criticism his Donegal charges have received in relation to their style of football.
In his opinion, all the top teams have their own brand and style of play and Donegal’s style has enabled them to reach the final four of this year’s Championship.
In retaliation to a recent criticism by Kerry’s Darren O’Sullivan, McGuinness told the Irish Examiner, “what we are trying to do is win an All-Ireland. I don’t care how we win it. If we can win it, it would be absolutely unbelievable for that group of players”.
The game of gaelic football is constantly evolving and changing and as new and fresher players rise up along the ranks, the style of play will change in line with the new blood. McGuinness is quick to point out that Armagh, under the leadership of Joe Kernan, had their own distinctive style and while many found it to be predictable, they were difficult to deal with because they had perfected it.
The experts and pundits have classed Donegal’s style as being too defensive however, they seem to forget that within that starting fifteen, is a marauding corner back in the form of Frank McGlynn who has initiated several raids from his defensive position throughout this year’s campaign.
The man with a bird’s eye view of this marauding warrior is goalkeeper Paul Durcan who commented recently to the Irish Independent, “I definitely see us as an attacking team.”
He went on to say that in last year’s campaign, the fact that Donegal did not push on when they were offered the opportunities, still haunts them and this is something that they have worked on this year. For a team that has been accused of negative play, they have a serious tally man in the form of Colm McFadden who has, this year, scored a total of 3-23 so far, making him a probable contender for Footballer of the Year.
McGuinness has instilled a belief in his panel and is on the verge of reaching an All-Ireland Final for the first time since 1992, when they won their only All-Ireland Title.
In relation to the game in hand, the Donegal boss feels that the middle of the field will be the site of the crucial battle. Midfielder Neil Gallagher was not part of the starting fifteen for the quarter final as a result of an ankle injury.
In his place stood Martin McElhinney, who is at present, suffering from a slight knee injury. Gallagher possesses a more physical and experienced presence and this will be vital for the game on Sunday.
“With their physique, with their fitness and their running power, it would not make sense if you were not dying to take teams on, make it an athletic battle through the middle and run it. I don’t see those things changing because it is in line with their strengths and it’s just a matter of trying to contain it”, McGuinness recently commented to GAA News about his Cork counterparts.
With Counihan expressing his admiration of Donegal’s ability to dictate the game against Kerry and McGuinness appreciating the calibre of players that Counihan holds, this promises to be a close encounter.
Further to recent accusations of negative play, Donegal have, in five championship games, struck a tally of 6-71, which in any man’s eyes is an impressive record and as a result, opinions on their style of play have been reviewed. Regardless of public opinion, McGuinness and his green and gold army have found a winning formula, found confidence and will do whatever it takes for the jersey.