Donegal aiming for the top says McGuinness

By Shaun Casey

JIM McGuinness made his long-awaited return to the Donegal sideline on Wednesday night and got his second stint underway with a handsome 16-point victory against an understrength Armagh side in the opening round of the McKenna Cup.

McGuinness returned as Donegal manager having stepped away in 2014 following four successful years at the helm. In that time, McGuinness guided his native county to four Ulster finals, winning three, an All-Ireland crown in 2012 and another All-Ireland final appearance in 2014.

“I think the work with the TV and the paper keeps you close to the action,” said McGuinness after last night’s victory on returning as Donegal manager.

“Even with your own kids, you’re coaching and stuff but in terms of that bigger question (of coming back) it probably wouldn’t have happened other than if Donegal were where they were.

“All I want to do is to get down to the nitty gritty of working hard and I think that’s where we are as a county. We are actually back to the same spot in that regard (as 2011) and it’s time to get the heads down, work hard and see where that takes us.”

Donegal endured a pretty miserable season in 2023, suffering relegation to Division Two and crashing out of the Ulster Championship at the first hurdle against Down, but McGuinness is intent on aiming for the top.

“We don’t want to be the same as everyone else anyway that’s for sure because in that situation, the status quo will remain and the teams that are winning All-Irelands will continue to win All-Irelands and that has been proven in history,” added McGuinness.

“So, for us, we know who we are, we’re a team that’s normally in Division One and if we’re in Division Two, we’re not happy about being in Division Two so we’re a top eight, top ten, top twelve team historically.

“We have to find a way to get to six and to four and to two and to one and that’s the reality. We’re going to have to think long and hard about that and we’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to come up with strategies and game plans that put us in that position.”

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