McGuinness expecting a battle

By Ryan Ferry and Mark McGoldrick

DONEGAL manager Jim McGuinness says his team will square off against a ‘very well organised’ Fermanagh side in O’Donnell Park this Saturday.

The Erne county were tipped in many quarters to be relegated back to the third tier.

However, they have made a very strong start so far drawing with Meath in Navan before beating Kildare on home turf.

McGuinness knows Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly from their days playing Sigerson Cup football together at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

Donnelly is an astute football man and his team will head to Letterkenny with a plan.

“I know Kieran Donnelly very well – I was in college with him. They are very well organised. They are very well tutored if you like. Everyone knows what they are doing.

“A bit like Cavan as well, they are very good on their own kick-outs and they are very dogged on their own kick-outs.

“If you get into a tussle with them in there normally teams lose in that situation. “It’s going to be a battle and we know that and we understand that.

“Fermanagh are on three points and that says a lot for the work that the men in charge are doing.”

It should be an interesting clash on Saturday. Fermanagh have been keen in the games that they have played to drop everyone back behind the ball and sit deep.

That is in contrast with Donegal, who are intent on winning the ball back high up the field.

We have seen them push their goalkeeper and defenders right up the field and it led to a goal for Cork in the opening match.

It’s a tactic that looks set to continue but McGuinness will do his homework ahead of each test and then judge how best to set up the team.

“Every game has to be won on its own merits. Every game will take on its own narrative.

“The tactics of the opposition manager will always have a big part to play.

“Fundamentally that’s what we have always tried to do. We have always tried to ask questions of teams and get to them, and work hard, and sort of create turnovers and play a transitional game.

“The long answer is yes but every single game has to be looked at it on its own merits, and you will have an individual plan for each game.”

Meanwhile, Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly knows that taking on Donegal this weekend will be ‘a step up’ for his squad, but he’s confident that they have what it takes to cause an upset in O’Donnell Park.

Fermanagh will go into the match as underdogs, but Donnelly believes there’s a good mood in the camp ahead of Saturday’s game in Letterkenny.

“Donegal came into the season on a high with the appointment of Jimmy (McGuinness),” said the Fermanagh boss.

“They’re riding on a crest of a wave, after starting with two wins. We know that they’re a mobile team, a young team and they’re going to be a step up to what we played [so far].

“We know it’ll be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that the boys are looking forward to.”

Donegal kicked off their league campaign with a comfortable 1-20 to 2-6 victory over Cork. They then made it two wins out of two with a one-point win over Cavan in round two.

The Tír Chonaill men will have a strong home crowd cheering them on at the weekend, but Donnelly feels that his players are looking forward to the big occasion.

“The away game always adds a bit extra to the home team, but you often find that the team that travels are aware they’re not in their back garden and have to work harder to get calls and decisions,” he said.

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