Donegal boss Jim McGuinness says 2009 Rebel rout is 'not relevant"

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Jim McGuinness

Jim McGuinness has insisted that Donegal's Croke Park drubbing by Cork three years ago has not been mentioned in the squad in the run-up to Sunday's All-Ireland Football semi-final.

Cork hammered John Joe Doherty's Donegal side 1-27 to 2-10 in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final.

"It's not something we've spoken about once in the build-up to Sunday's game," said McGuinness.

"I don't intend to speak about it either. It has no relevance to us".

McGuinness added:"Maybe it has (relevance) for the Cork players.

"They might feel they've done that to us in the past and they potentially could do it again.

"But from our point of view, we know exactly what we are trying to work on in relation to this game."

Since Donegal's re-emergence as a national force under McGuinness, the team's playing system has generated much comment and the Glenties man says that he has been "intrigued" by the debate.

"When you are a manager and coach, you have a keen eye on the other teams in the country and what they are doing and particularly the top teams.

"Every single one of them has a distinct system of play. I find it interesting that that's not an issue for other teams.

"I remember Armagh years ago, under Joe Kernan. Their system was so distinct you could nearly tell what they were going to do next.

"Even at that, a lot of the time you weren't able to stop it because they were so good at it.

"All the top teams have different ways of playing the game."

While Donegal's game plan over the last two years has been described as a "defensive system", McGuinness insists that the team's play is "continuing to evolve".

"Our players are young and evolving and as they move and change, we're trying to shape things around the game plan in relation to that.

"It's very fluid at the minute and I think it will be that way for a year or two."

Not surprisingly, McGuinness describes 2010 champions Cork as "favourites" to land this year's All-Ireland title.

Cork's Graham Canty shakes hands with Donegal's Colm McFadden after the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final, with Kevin Cassidy in the background
Cork's Graham Canty shakes hands with Donegal's Colm McFadden after the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final, with Kevin Cassidy in the background

"They are a very big side physically. They are athletic and have a very strong running game.

"They have Nicholas Murphy on the edge of the square now and it gives them an outlet for a long ball game.

"Cork are going to ask a lot of questions of us that maybe other teams haven't asked of us to date."

However, McGuinness appears confident that his team will be over-powered by Cork's much-vaunted physicality.

"Cork would be the benchmark in the physical stakes. It's going to be a very big challenge for our players but at the same time, we are happy with where we are at."

McGuinness' side could and probably should have beaten Dublin in last year's All-Ireland semi-final and the manager acknowledges that a "more expansive" approach in the second half of that game probably would have yielded a victory.

"But I would feel we're a lot further down the track in our own development. We've moved forward as a team and obviously we're putting more scores on the board, which is very important."

Perhaps ominously for the Rebels, despite his team's win over Kerry, McGuinness believes his team has yet to hit "top gear" this season.

"We put on a good show against Down in the Ulster Final - particularly in the second half.

"But even the last day (against Kerry), I thought we played a bit more conservatively in the first half and opened up a bit more in the second half."

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