The two Jims renew rivalry

The two Jims renew rivalry
It seems like a long time now since the above photo appeared - prior to the All-Ireland U-21 final of 2010 - Donegal and Dublin.

It seems like a long time now since the above photo appeared - prior to the All-Ireland U-21 final of 2010 - Donegal and Dublin.

It was Jim Gavin against Jim McGuinness and on Sunday next that rivalry will be renwed at senior level.

The width of a crossbar denied Donegal, Michael Murphy and McGuinness of beating Dublin in that U-21 final in Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan in late April.

Since then both McGuinness and Gavin have guided Donegal and Dublin to All-Ireland senior titles and they would have plenty of healthy respect for each other.

At the end of last week, the ‘process’, as McGuinness calls it, begun to put the plan in place for Sunday’s shoot-out in Croke Park.

Dublin are odds on favourites, given their form to date, racking up big scores and big wins in all their matches. There are many who feel they are unstoppable, but McGuinness is not among them.

He is a little envious of the support system that Jim Gavin has but he feels that it is up to everyone else to bridge that gap.

“We’ve got to get ourselves right. We’ve been working since the start of the year on developing systems and develop things that hopefully make us a better and more efficient side. We can’t disregard that now just because it’s Dublin. That wouldn’t work. Psychologically, it would throw the players.

“It’s 100 percent about the players, what they do and how they interpret things. We pass information on that we think is relevant to the game. It is then up to them to make that information work. But they’ve been absolutely fantastic. You give them information and they try to deliver it to the best of their ability.

“That point we scored the last day (winner against Armagh), there was no coaching involved there. That’s decision making. You have to give players that flexibility. We’re very fortunate to have the group of players we have, how talented they are and how committed they are,” said McGuinness, which underlines the dedicated preparation that the Glenties man puts into the role.

Donegal, under McGuinness, have taken the scalps of all of the big hitters in Gaelic football apart from Dublin. It’s not that McGuinness would have been looking for this match-up, but he will be relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against the Dubs in their own back yard.

“We’re in a good place. We’ve a lot of work done. I think in terms of participation in training, it’s up there at 93 percent. Last year it was down around the 40 mark. At those levels, you just cannot go into Croke Park and hope to compete with the Aidan O’Sheas of this world,” said McGuinness.

Last year’s hurt after losing heavily to Mayo still lingers and if anyone can get Donegal over the line against Dublin, it’s McGuinness.