Maguire: Cork can use venue to their advantage but Donegal should be too strong

1992 All-Ireland winner backing Jim McGuinness to have plan to quell the Rebels

Donegal v Cork
Donegal defeated Cork in the opening round of the Allianz Football League in Ballybofey in January Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
All-Ireland SFC Group 3, round two
Cork v Donegal (Saturday, Páirc Uí Rinn, 2.30pm)

CORK’S physicality and the fact that the game is in the tight confines of Páirc Uí Rinn could ask questions of Donegal this afternoon.

The Rebels may also try to isolate some of Donegal’s smaller players in a one-on-one situation.

But 1992 All-Ireland winner Sylvester Maguire believes that the current form of the Tír Chonaill men should be enough to see them through undefeated to the final round.

Maguire believes that playing the game in Páirc Uí Rinn is tactical on the part of Cork, but stresses that Jim McGuinness seems to have a plan for every eventuality.

McGuinness has named an unchanged team from their seven-point win over Tyrone in Ballybofey last weekend and Maguire believes Cork will find it difficult to cope with the speed of the Ulster champions.

“I was very impressed with Donegal against Tyrone in Ballybofey,” Maguire said.

“The sheer speed at which they moved the ball was impressive, it was even noticeable in the warm-up.

“I have never seen a team warming up at that pace and the quality of the ball handling was superb.

“Jim McGuinness’s drills are very simple, very basic and practical.

“It’s a very simple gameplan based on running and giving support.

“And then you have Peadar Mogan breaking through and Ryan McHugh back controlling the back line.

“He had a quiet Ulster final because he was man-handled out of the game for most of it.”

Maguire sees Jason McGee starting to stamp his authority at midfield and Brendan McCole looking very solid at the back, while the power and pace of Ciaran Moore is another great asset.

“We have not yet seen the best of Michael Langan and Ciaran Thompson while the players coming off the bench are adding value to the team,” he added.

The selection of venue is due to Páirc Uí Chaoimh – which has proved such a happy hunting ground for Cork’s hurlers in the Munster Championship – being used for the recent Bruce Springsteen concerts.

It’s something which Maguire feels could give Cork an advantage, especially having seen them up close in recent years.

The big expanses of Páirc Uí Chaoimh would suit Donegal’s style of play much better,” said the Aodh Rua clubman.

“I umpired Cork last year and they are a big strong side and when Cork play football they are as good a side as any county in Ireland.

“They have the players, but I just don’t think they are as far down the development line as Donegal are now.

“Donegal were never as bad as people thought they were last year, but the reinvention of [Ryan] McHugh, Eoghan Ban [Gallagher] getting fitter the quality of Peadar Mogan, a solid midfield and Oisin Gallen up front has transformed Donegal.

“Donegal still don’t have a Michael Murphy, but he was a once-in-a-lifetime player and we are not going to get a Murphy, but this is a very well- balanced team.”