Jim McGuiness says Derry remain one of top three teams in country despite Ulster Championship defeat

Donegal senior football manager Jim McGuinness. Photo: George SweeneyDonegal senior football manager Jim McGuinness. Photo: George Sweeney
Donegal senior football manager Jim McGuinness. Photo: George Sweeney
Jim McGuinness believes Derry remain one of the top three teams in the country despite watching his Donegal team dethrone the Ulster champions in emphatic style in Celtic Park.

The Tir Chonaill men belied their underdogs status with a high octane, four goal display based around a superb long kick-out and intense break ball policy which negated Derry's high press and exposed the 'sweeper keeper' tactic employed by so many counties in the modern game. The victory sets up an intriguing Ulster semi-final clash with Tyrone next Sunday but McGuinness doesn’t believe Saturday will be the last he sees of Derry this championship season.

"The dry ball will always suit us like because we do put a lot of ball through the hands, it's just the way we play it in Donegal a lot of the time," explained the Donegal manager, "We did kick it well, we kept it well. There was a lot of transitional moments and we capitalised on a lot of them with goals which is a unusual. There is not that many normally. We manufactured some of them, some of them fell by chance.

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"From my own point of view it was great that they defended very well, attacked really well and supported each other in those attacks and made them sharp, fast and aggressive.

Derry’s Conor Glass grapples with Shane O’Donnell of Donegal. Photo: George SweeneyDerry’s Conor Glass grapples with Shane O’Donnell of Donegal. Photo: George Sweeney
Derry’s Conor Glass grapples with Shane O’Donnell of Donegal. Photo: George Sweeney

"We're delighted, We're delighted to get through. It's a big step for us but we also know - I personally feel that Derry, Dublin and Kerry are the top three teams in the country. For us this puts us in the semi-final and that was the only thing that was ever important to us, to try and get next round of the championship and now we have got to go again in eights days’ time."

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After barely touching the ball in the opening six minutes, Donegal grew into the game off the back of Daire O Baoill's opening goal though McGuinness was more coy on whether they had targeted Derry's tendency to use Odhran Lynch in their kick-out press.

"Derry can make your suffer, the top teams can make you suffer," he added, "We had an idea of what we wanted to do and we wanted to stick to that. You have to keep working and believing in all moments whether you are up or down.

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"Nothing is ever going to go in a straight line and we just had to deal with those moments. Even in the second half we let Derry into it a wee bit. We were able to penetrate more but we didn't take it, we were pulling the trigger from too far out and our decision making was off so there are definitely areas to work on going into the next round.

"The kick-outs are almost everything in the game now. It's incredibly difficult to shut goalkeepers down, it's just so difficult and a lot of teams are looking at that. They are also looking at, well if that is the case then we need options 'B' and 'C' and teams have those options now.

"Derry did serious damage against Dublin over the top themselves and we did damage today but those are just moments in the game; they are just moments and sometimes that ball drops to you, sometimes it drops to them."

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