Talk of Dublin decline is just ‘spin’ – Jim McGuinness

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Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has scoffed at notions of Dublin’s demise.

Although the Dubs are without cruciate knee ligament victim Bernard Brogan, star Diarmuid Connolly is in Donegal Boston’s colours these days and Paul Flynn has rarely featured, McGuinness says any talk of a decline is greatly exaggerated. 

Dublin have won the last three All-Irelands and McGuinness’s Donegal, in a 2014 semi-final, was the last side to beat the Dubs in a Championship contest.

“For me, whoever is saying to you that Dublin are on the slide they are probably from Dublin and they are involved in spin,” the Glenties man said. 

“I don’t see it.

I just think their young boys are really talented players, a bit like the Kerry lads that are coming in, they are really talented, they are really hungry, they have got energy, they have got intensity, they have got pace. They are accurate.

“I think it’s just an incredibly healthy situation for everybody there. 

“You have got huge experience to draw on and you have incredible legs out on the pitch for intensity, players that are rightly there on merit.”

Donegal won a first Ulster title in four years last month and, even without top scorer Patrick McBrearty, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Fermanagh, McGuinness says Declan Bonner’s team can trouble the Sam Maguire holders.

McGuinness said: “It’s a tough draw but I think there’s a part of me as well that thinks they are looking forward to it, that this is the acid test.

“And they do have legs themselves, they have a lot of pace, they have a lot of skill going forward.

“There were a lot of people taking the pressure off Patrick and Michael (Murphy) so I think they’ll go out and express themselves and if they can live with the reality of not having Patrick, I think they’ll be okay.”

Four years ago, McGuinness masterminded one of Donegal’s greatest triumphs as they stunned Dublin in the semi-final.

His preparation involved hours upon hours of watching Dublin games, attempting to figure out the complex puzzle that is Stephen Cluxton. Having missed the Leinster final win over Laois due to a rib injury, Cluxton is poised to return to action this evening.

McGuinness said: “He’s the best player that has ever played the game, in that position, there’s no doubt about that.

“I always make the point that when you’re going to play Dublin in the Championship, the first problem you’ve to solve is Stephen Cluxton.

“That is the very first problem and that is a very unique situation in team sport, where the goalkeeper is the guy you’ve got to have the biggest plan for. It’s normally the best full-forward, the centre-forward or the midfield. But with Dublin that’s the first conundrum.”

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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