THEIR LAST MEETING with Cork in a championship tie in Croke Park was a chastening experience but the memories of that 14-point defeat in the 2009 All-Ireland SFC quarter-final will not weight heavily on Donegal’s minds over the next few weeks as they get set for the county’s semi-final clash on August 26th.
Donegal were humbled by 1-27 to 2-10 in that 2009 encounter but their manager Jimmy McGuinness is determined that his players focus will be on what lies ahead after they defeated Kerry at the quarter-final stage yesterday.
“1-27 two or three years ago shouldn’t be in our psyche. It’s really about now. If you’re thinking about the drumming you got three years ago you’re in the wrong area. That’s the same thing we’ve done since I’ve come in. It’ll be the same approach, the same mentality. Trying to get our plans down early, share them with the players and then work towards it on the training field. We’ll look at Cork now and I’m sure they’ll look at us. We’ll try and put our preparations together for that, get ourselves right and then it’s a matter of trying to execute a game plan.
“From our own point of view we’re just happy to progress. We were in a semi-final last year and we were desperate to try and get back there again. We’ve achieved that now and it gives the lads an opportunity to go and play in a big, big game in Croke Park again. The whole thing is progress really. In the next three weeks, if it seeps into their brain what they’ve done, the quality of the opposition they’ve beaten, hopefully that will make them grow a wee bit psychologically because they have come a very hard road.”
Before that game the Donegal squad may have to face a hectic schedule of club matches next weekend but McGuinness, who has succeeded in getting local games called off in the past in order to ensure the team’s preparations are assisted, is unsure if he will look for more postponements.
“We’ll see what the boys’ thoughts are on it and what the management’s thoughts are on it and we’ll take it from there. That’s as political a way as I can put it.”
Yesterday’s victory was a hugely significant one for Donegal as they toppled a heavyweight force in Kerry and McGuinness believes his team showed their composure under pressure.
“I said before we’d know a lot more about our own team after the game. We know when the real pressure comes on them they don’t fold. That’s important. We knew that Kerry were going to come back at us very strong at some stage. They’ve won what they’ve won for a reason. Their composure and class came through at the very end.
“Up to then we were very happy that we were in control of the game and at that stage I thought it wasn’t going to come from Kerry and then the goal changed everything. You could feel the apprehension when the ball hopped into the net in the crowd. A very important breaking ball in the middle of the park when we had lost two or three in a row and Karl Lacey comes onto it, kicks a very good score and pushes it out to two. Kerry were asking serious questions of us at that stage but we were okay after that.”