JIM MCGUINNESS TODAY recalled the ‘once-in-a-lifestyle’ chance to win an All-Ireland title he had as a Donegal panel member.
McGuinness was only 19 years of age when Donegal overcome Mayo 0-13 to 0-9 in the 1992 All-Ireland semi-final and said there was an edge to training in the lead-up to the final against Dublin.
“The whole country thought they’d win it,” McGuinness, who would not make his championship debut until 1993, said of Dublin in his weekly column in The Irish Times.
“Gaelic games are all about the team, yes. But there are times when the individual instinct takes over. Boys were desperate to play. This was a team full of great friends who had never been to an All-Ireland final before. They didn’t know if they’d be back. So there was a feeling that this was a once-in-a-lifetime game. And that morning, in the A versus B game, there was an edge that I had never seen between these boys before.”[adrotate group=”38″]
McGuinness would go onto manage Donegal to a second All-Ireland title in 2012 but 20 years beforehand believes that their mental resolve was toughened before the famous 0-18 to 0-14 win over Dublin at Croke Park.
“Brian Murray and Anthony Molloy went at it a few times,” McGuinness added. “Squared up and boxed. A few rows broke out between Joyce McMullin and Donal Reid. And then came this challenge from John Joe Doherty on Declan Bonner.
“The pair of them were going for a ball and John Joe came like a train and he absolutely flattened Declan. What I will always remember is Declan lying still and John Joe not even turning. He just went back to the corner and stood with his hands on his hips staring straight up the field.
“I am not suggesting that Donegal won that All-Ireland there and then. But I do believe that a different mentality came into that squad that morning. As it turned out, Martin Shovlin had to relinquish his place on the morning of the final with a neck injury and Brian went with John Joe.[adrotate group=”46″]
“And John Joe played very well too. So he made all those weeks in his life count. They all did. They knew they had to make it count. Boys like Matt Gallagher, Noel Hegarty, Manus Boyle: there was this realisation: when will we be back in a final?”