He said pundits who had rounded on Donegal had failed to take into account their achievements or put the success of the Ulster Championship and League title into perspective.
“We were a team that hadn’t won a game in three or four years in the Ulster Championship and that had to change,” said Jim.
“We ended up winning the league and winning the Ulster Championship and that’s the second most successful year in the history of the county. Outside of 1992 it is our most successful year and that’s almost been forgotten about because of the criticism that has come at the team.
“The boys have worked tremendously hard this year to get those two medals and that has been a wee bit lost as well.”
And he insisted that he had only taken the side to a 60% level – and he was working hard to find the other 40% and take Donegal further.
The management team, he said, had worked hard on conditioning, training, tactics, diets and so much more.
“We are realistic about where we were 12 months ago and we are realistic about where we are now and where we want to be at the start of the Championship next year,” said McGuinness.
Reacting to criticism of the defensive tactics, the Donegal manager said he would work to bring new aspects and skills to the side.
“We feel we can do that; that we can improve the team offensively and still maintain our defensive shape. We want to retain that and push forward on the other fronts.
“It has annoyed me in the past week the way the players have been criticised. If someone has a problem with Jim McGuinness that’s ok, but I think the things that have been said in the press have been disrespectful to the players.
“We will stick together and up the ante in the next couple of months and move forward.”
Talking about the counties which have dominated the game, Jim had more interesting comments to make.
“We are nine months in the making,” he said.
“The Kerry team in the final next week is ten years in the making. That Dublin team is five or six years in the making. We know we are only at this nine months and we knew that and we knew where we were.
“The players gave their all and the pundits expect us on the sidelines not to do the same. Well that’s fantasy football. The reality is that we have to win games in order to progress and you can’t get better unless you win.
“We’d like to be double (Ulster) champions and our next step has to be to get to an All-Ireland final. If we can do that, the team will evolve and grow.
“The players will know then that they are a top team and it will be up to other teams to come and develop tactics to beat us.
“We know where we are at and where other teams are at and we are trying to bridge that gap as quickly as possible.
“Because the reality is it’s either Cork or Kerry, it’s Galway or Mayo, it’s Dublin or Kildare or Meath and for 13 years (in Ulster) it was either Tyrone or Armagh.
“Now we want a piece of that pie; the players worked so hard in the past and got nothing out of it, but now they have an Ulster medal. We will push forward now and try to evolve and make the whole squad more complete.”Tags: