GLists: The Jimmy McGuinness finals

Jimmy McGuinness had four memorable years in charge of the Donegal seniors between 2011 and 2014. Here’s a look back at the finals he reached during his time as boss.

National League Division Two final 2011

Donegal 2-11 Laois 0-16

TWO goals, from Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden, helped Donegal win Jim McGuinness his first senior silverware. His team had to play with 14 men after Adrian Hanlon was sent off at the start of the second half. In the aftermath of that game  McGuinness praised the work-ethic and attitude of his team. He said: “When you work hard you normally get your rewards.”

Ulster Senior Football

Championship final 2011

Donegal 1-11 Derry 0-8

JIM McGuinness led Donegal to their first Ulster title in 19 years when they out played Derry at Clones. Michael Murphy’s penalty was a big moment for Donegal. It came early in the second half and that gave them a five-point lead that they could protect. Colm McFadden scored 0-4 and had a big part to play. Neil McGee’s heavy tackle on Emmett McGuckin stopped a goal chance from Derry, and the Oak Leafers appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Ulster Senior Football

Championship final 2012

Donegal 2-18 Down 0-13

THIS was the first time in the county’s history that the won back-to-back Ulster titles. Donegal were hit with a problem when Eamon McGee dropped to the bench and Declan Walsh was drafted in to replace him in defence. Down had led early on, but Donegal regained the lead when Ryan Bradley set Leo McLoone up for the goal. Donegal led by the minimum at half time. Martin McElhinney had a great game in the second half and his scores helped them push on. Colm McFadden’s four points late in the game confirmed the result.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final 2012

Donegal 2-11 Mayo 0-13

“WITHOUT Colm Donegal wouldn’t have won the All-Ireland.” That is what Kevin Cassidy said of Donegal in the years following 2012. In the All-Ireland final of 2012, Colm  McFadden and Michael Murphy’s goals gave Donegal a crucial advantage in the first half and they led by 2-4 to 0-7 at half time. The issues of 2011, when Donegal’s transition from defence to attack had not been perfected, were no longer evident and in 2012 Jim McGuinness’s counter-attacking play was evident. Ryan Bradley and Mark McHugh were pivotal to delivering that game-plan.

Ulster Senior Football

Championship final 2013

Monaghan 0-13 Donegal 0-7

IN the lead up to this game, Karl Lacey was carrying an injury and while he was named to start there were question marks about his fitness. Monaghan hadn’t won an Ulster title since 1988 and their last two appearances in the decider were defeats to Tyrone. Going into the game the consensus was that Donegal would win their third Ulster title in-a-row. But Jim McGuinness himself had said that Monaghan had ferocious hunger and that they deserved respect. Donegal kicked more than 10 wides and they were chasing the game from the start after Monaghan got the lead early on. Colm McFadden and Patrick McBrearty couldn’t get into the game, and McGuinness shook Monaghan boss Malachy O’Rourke’s hand before the final whistle when he saw Rory Beggan and Tommy Freeman’s scores sail over.

National League Division Two final 2014

Monaghan 1-16 Donegal 1-10

UNLIKE the Ulster final, Donegal got the better start and raced into an early lead. But Monaghan weren’t fazed and fought back to earn a three-point lead at half time. Michael Murphy’s penalty got Donegal back into the game early in the second half. But Rory Kavanagh’s second-half sending off put Donegal on the back foot again. Kieran Hughes’s goal had Donegal reeling though, and they couldn’t get back into the game. However, both teams knew that their next meeting, if they got there, would be in the Ulster final.

Ulster Senior Football

Championship final 2014

Donegal 0-15 Monaghan 1-9

THIS was the rematch that both teams had been waiting for. Donegal’s manager Jim McGuinness had lost his chance to win three Ulster titles in-a-row the previous year. But this game lacked the charm of previous encounters. Donegal had the better of the early exchanges and led by 0-10 to 0-6. Christopher McGuinness’s goal for the Farney men put one point between them, but Donegal’s determination to win back their title showed and they stretched their lead as Ryan McHugh, Patrick McBrearty and Michael Murphy made their presence felt. While the press wanted to paint the result as a revenge match for Donegal, McGuinness wanted to make clear that the opposition didn’t matter, they only cared about winning the trophy back. He also spoke about the players keeping the right mentality, which meant not taking the ball into contact and making sure not to rest on a lead.

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final 2014

Donegal 0-12 Kerry 2-9

ONE  of Donegal’s great memories of 2014 will be their win over Dublin. That result was a victory over a masterful Dublin side, a team whose attack was fantastic, but Jim  McGuinness had worked out a plan to break them down, and get in behind their defence. Going into the All-Ireland final, they were preparing to play a Kerry team that had beaten Mayo by three points in the semi-final. Donegal had got the worst start when they conceded a Kerry goal to Paul Geaney. By half time they were level as Michael Murphy fired over three frees. Kerry pressured Donegal’s ball carriers and that took its toll and when Kieran Donaghy was gifted a goal after a mistake on a kick-out . Donegal were chasing again. Kerry’s defence held firm in the final moments, as McGuinness’s men battered them to no avail. McGuinness stepped down as manager after that match.

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