Only a little over a year ago it seemed Donegal were every fan’s least favourite team – drawing criticism from the pub to the pulpit for what was seen as a negative style of football: all tactics and no intelligence.
Yesterday, the last of those critics were silenced as Jim McGuinness’ side deservedly claimed the county’s first All-Ireland in 20 years and for McGuinness one word summed it up: belief.
Donegal showed a spirited and talented Mayo side what Derry, Tyrone, Kerry and Cork already knew – this team are a juggernaut.
“I never once thought we were going to get beat,” said McGuinness after the match.
“I couldn’t go there. It’s just so far removed from this. I just didn’t want to go there. I kept believing what we were going to do and I kept working towards that and focus on that.”
Much of the run up to the final and after match conversation centred around McGuinness’ approach and though this time the remarks were resoundingly complimentary, the manager was keen to turn the praise towards his players.
“These boys have made a commitment to their county, they are focused on that commitment and they believed even through thick and thin we could get there. And we have got here now. And it is a great thing to be part of a group that can make dreams become a reality. And that is what they have done in 20 months.”