Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 10°C Thursday 22 October 2020

'It was a bit like Ali and Foreman!' says Donegal's Eamon McGee after Dubs scalp

From the 25th minute on, Donegal outscored Dublin by 3-10 to 0-8 in Croke Park yesterday.

Eamon and Neil McGee celebrated with manager Jim McGuinness at the final whistle.
Eamon and Neil McGee celebrated with manager Jim McGuinness at the final whistle.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

DUBLIN ARE NO dopes but Donegal sucked them in yesterday with one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous tactics.

The Dubs racked up nine points in the opening 25 minutes of the All-Ireland SFC semi-final.

But Jim Gavin’s side were all punched out after their early dominance and Donegal outscored them by 3-10 to 0-8 from that point, setting up a showdown against Kerry on 21 September.

“There wasn’t really worry,” Eamon McGee said on the Dubs’ blistering start.

It was a bit like Ali and Foreman! We kinda drew them but stayed in the zone.

“Maybe, as it turned out, that was a psychological blow to Dublin towards the end of the first half when they went in a point down at half-time.

“There was no wild panic there from us. We just needed to stay in it. Dublin had a couple of goal chances but we stayed cool.”

It was very much a team performance from the Ulster champions but McGee was quick to salute the contribution of the squad’s younger players.

Livewire Ryan McHugh was the hero of the day with a goal in either half, Odhran MacNiallais was a colossus alongside Neil Gallagher in midfield, and Paddy McBrearty settled any second-half nerves with two magnificent scores after coming off the bench.

McGee said: “A special word must go out to a fella like Paddy McBrearty. He never complained and came on and made a massive impact. He has to be applauded for that.

“Getting a place on this team is tight but that’s one of the big advantages this year. It’s not just 15 or 17 or whatever players — we’ve pushed it out to about 24 players now. There’s real competition for places and that keeps everyone on their toes.”

On MacNiallais and McHugh, he added: “We earmarked Odhran in Gaoth Dobhair a long time ago. He’s married attitude with unbelievable ability.

Ryan is unbelievable. We’ve been told about Ryan from a young age that he was the best of the McHughs – I dunno what Mark will say about that!

“Both the lads, Odhran and Ryan put in unbelievable shifts today.”

For McGee himself, the prospect of lining out against Kerry later this month is a long way from 2010 when he was lining out for London in Division 4 of the National Football League.

“It’s amazing to be back in an All-Ireland final. I wouldn’t have thought it a couple of years ago when I was playing for London against Kilkenny. It’s unbelievable stuff.

“We got a new direction under Jim and we’ve worked hard. He gave us the focus and the lads have wanted to do it. That’s what it’s all about.”

Johnny Doyle column: The bookies don’t normally get it so wrong

5 talking points after Donegal stunned the Dubs in Croke Park

About the author:

Niall Kelly

Read next: