By Damian Dolan
Former Donegal All Ireland winning manager Jim McGuinness believes the county’s current crop have forwards who are the envy of their rivals.
McGuinness guided Donegal to All Ireland glory in 2012 – just the county’s second-ever All Ireland success – and led them back to Croker two years later, only to lose out to Kerry in the final.
He stepped down as manager in 2014 but despite the subsequent retirement of several members of that All Ireland winning side, and the more recent departures of the likes of Rory Kavanagh, Christy Toye, Eamon McGee and Colm McFadden, he’s adamant Donegal have the fire power up front to mount a challenge in Ulster and beyond.
“What we have that a lot of other teams don’t have is we’ve marquee forwards”, said McGuinness.
“I think teams that have won an All-Ireland have a Michael Murphy, a Colm McFadden, a Paddy McBrearty in their ranks. I think if you go through all the teams that have won an All-Ireland they have that.
“The Gooch, Peter Canavan you know they have these players that are a level above their peers if you like. Top teams need that and luckily we’ve got that.”
Donegal open their Ulster campaign this Sunday at Ballybofey with a quarter-final meeting against Antrim – the same fixture McGuinness kicked off his rein win in 2011.
“Expectations were low and the pressure was high on the players”, recalled McGuinness, with the county without a provincial win in four years.
“There was a good bit of pressure going into that game and we just tried to manage that via what we were looking to achieve in the performance.
“It’s interesting now going into this game there’s an expectation that Donegal will go into the game by, I don’t know what the handicap will be, 10 points maybe and that’s what we’ve created if you like.”