Jim McGuinness believed the hunger shown by Mayo was the key differential yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final mauling.
The Connacht champions were dominant from the midpoint of the first half and will now play Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final as Mayo seek to bring Sam Maguire to the county for the first time since 1951.
Mayo were in no way flattered by the margin of their 4-17 to 1-10 victory having led comfortably 2-10 to 0-4 at the break. McGuinness was asked what he thought of the collapse.
“‘Collapse’ is a hard word but that’s the reality,” he said as he tried to pick through the rubble at Croke Park yesterday.
“The short version is we met a very hungry team today that were coming into this team with mission of trying to win the All-Ireland.
“We had that last year in our play and everything that we did and Mayo have it now. Rather than making excuses, the best thing is to acknowledge what Mayo brought to the table today, the desire and the hunger, and the performance they put in, which was a fairly impressive performance.
Donegal had been struggling to recreate the magic that took them to an All-Ireland title last year but yesterday was a complete system collapse.
“I knew we weren’t ourselves and I knew that instead of managing a team, we were managing a situation,” McGuinness said.
“That’s the difference probably. Every manager wants to be managing the team with everyone available, everyone fully fit but again not to get caught up in that because the reality is the other team delivered the performance today.
“We went into the game today hoping we were going to deliver the performance.”
Donegal defeated Mayo 2-11 to 0-13 in the All-Ireland final last year and McGuinness insisted he was not surprised by their high level of ambition, as they showed yesterday.
“I expected a performance like that, yes,” he said. “Obviously they’re hurting badly after losing the All-Ireland last year and they wanted to get back there so we knew they were going to bring that.”
There had been a number of issues propping their head in recent weeks to ignite the growing rivalry between Donegal and Mayo.
However, McGuinness insisted he has no problem with the team managed by James Horan.
“If we hadn’t won the All-Ireland last year we would have been delighted that Mayo had won it,” McGuinness said.
“There were two new teams in the final and obviously such a history in trying to get over the line. So we knew they were bringing all of that to the table.
“For us, we weren’t able to match it and we have to look at all the reasons why we weren’t able to match that.”