An uncharacteristic lack of composure was the main reason for Donegal’s loss to Down in Newry according to Jim McGuinness.
The Donegal manager has shown in his four-year term his willingness to draw on the numerics and was similarly communicative when assessing how his side went down to a first loss in this season’s Allianz League Division Two.
“When you kick 20 wides it can be difficult,” he said.
Donegal kicked 12 wides over the course of the match but with the efforts that dropped short and others that weren’t seized upon, the accumulation is about right.
A lot of the misses were uncharacteristic as Donegal failed to get back in touch with their hosts after Niall Madine’s 13th minute goal.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” McGuinness continued.
“Any day you kick that many wides and you get beaten by two points you have to be disappointed. That’s the bottom line on it.
“There was a strong breeze in the first half and we played into it. Their goal was a big score in the game and they continued that way through the game in that they defended the lead very well. They put everything into it.”
Down’s evolution under James McCartan continued. After Donegal hammered them 2-18 to 0-13 in the 2012 Ulster final, the Mourne County showed much more northern characteristics last year in their 0-12 to 0-9 loss in the Ulster semi-final.
That trend continued at Pairc Esler with Down funnelling men back and forcing Donegal to cough up possession, while taking their scores when the chances arose. In a way, they did a Donegal on Donegal.
As in any of his previous campaigns, the objective for McGuinness’s Donegal is to prepare themselves for the Ulster championship .
This year’s campaign opens against Derry on May 25 so although the two-point reversal to Down was certainly disappointing, it did pose a purpose in that it will prepare Donegal for summer.
“It was a good, competitive game and that’s what we want at this time of year,” McGuinness said.
“We’ll look at the tape and see where we need to push on, but it’s fairly obvious that we need to improve on our shooting.
“The game ebbed and flowed; they had possession, we had possession.
“We’re happy in that we got a tough battle and that we were really tested, but we’re disappointed with a number of things in our own performance that we didn’t get right.
“There are things that we’d normally have done in the previous four games.
“I’m just disappointed that we didn’t retain our composure.
“If we’d retained our composure, settled down and taken the scores when they were on it might have been a different result. That didn’t happen so you have to give Down the credit.”