JIM MCGUINNESS’S smile was significantly broader in Ballyshannon on Sunday than it had been seven days beforehand in Killarney and the Donegal manager must’ve been content with his side’s best performance of the season.
At half-time Donegal were two points down and a man down but an excellent second half showing saw the Ulster champions turn things around and post what eluded to a comfortable win over the blunted westerners.
Rory Kavanagh seeing red sparked debate all around the ground on a lovely spring afternoon but McGuinness was willing to reserve judgement until he had got the chance to look at Brendan O’Donnell’s video of the game.
“With Rory getting sent off there it was looking like it was going to be a very difficult situation for us to try and turn it around but they dug in very well and responded well to the sending off,” McGuinness said.
“I didn’t honestly see it but the boys were saying in the dressing room there wasn’t much in it so we’ll see if Brendan got it on the video. If there isn’t much in it we’ll appeal it. We’ll have to wait and see. Sometimes when you see things you might see it back and it’s a different thing. He’ll be a loss for us at Croke Park next week as he’s fit and you need every man going to Croke Park when you want to get the result.
“The most pleasing aspect was how they pushed on and didn’t go within ourselves. We tried to get men up the field. The full-back line did very well. Paddy McGrath and Frank McGlynn were very good, as was Eamon McGee when he went in there. Also, Anthony Thompson, Leo McLoone and Karl Lacey came forward with more intention and purpose, so that was encouraging as well.”
In the minefield Division One has become, Donegal are now on four points from five games. Kerry are the pacesetters with two rounds of fixtures remaining - three for Mayo and Dublin after their clash last month was abandoned in thick fog.
All year long McGuinness has said the priority is the Ulster championship preliminary round tie against Cavan at Breffni Park but wins like Sunday’s will give Donegal every chance of keeping their heads above water in the league.
“It was a brave learning curve down in Kerry and today we took it by the scruff of the neck, where the last day we stood back and watched a very good Kerry team play,” he added of last week’s 2-16 to 1-8 defeat. “As I said last weekend we weren’t the first team that did that. We paid the price but every day is a school day and you’re learning all the time. I don’t think today’s result was based on that as we were just trying to get our performance right.
“We always want to go out and win every game anyway. Championship is our priority but what we are doing even now is not based on the league, it’s based on the championship. Hopefully we can get enough points to stay in the division and then our focus was turn to Cavan on May 20.”