Raymond Sweeney: Jason McGee the missing piece in the Donegal jigsaw

Former Tir Chonaill defender feels midfield duo will hold key to success this year

Jason McGee could dominate the midfield battle in Pairc Esler
Former Donegal defender Raymond Sweeney feels the return from injury of midfielder Jason McGee will enhance the Tir Chonaill midfield
Allianz Football League Division Two: Donegal v Louth (Sunday, Ballyshannon, 2pm)

Former Donegal full-back Raymond Sweeney believes that Jim McGuinness’s jigsaw won’t be complete until the injured Jason McGee comes back to man the middle of the field.

Sweeney insists that Donegal will have a really powerful platform at midfield when the towering McGee from Cloughaneely links up with his St Michael’s neighbour Michael Langan.

“This pair could match up to anything in the country and they have the height, physique, athleticism and ball playing skills and make a really formidable team,” Sweeney said.

“When the two of them are going well, they are awesome. There are not too many midfielders who can play as much ball as they can.

“Michael is on his way back and hopefully Jason will not be too far behind him.

“And that would release Ciaran Thompson to be further in towards the opposition’s goal and pose an even bigger threat and of course Paddy McBrearty and Oisin Gallen are really deadly up front.”

On Sunday Donegal face a relegation-threatened Louth in Ballyshannon and Sweeney expects Jim McGuinness’s men to continue their march to promotion.

They stuttered slightly in drawing with Armagh last week at the Athletic Grounds, but that shouldn’t be seen as a setback and Sweeney believes there are many positives Donegal can take from the game.

“I would not be too worried about whether Donegal win this League or not as promotion is the main thing and Jim McGuinness can continue his steady building of a really good team,” the Dungloe man said.

“From outside I think Donegal have the tougher tests out of the way and now have Louth, Kildare and Meath in the final games.

“I would not be taking any of those teams for granted and neither will Jim McGuinness, but I think he will be a wee bit annoyed that he did not win the game last week against Armagh.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness Picture: Margaret McLaughlin (Margaret McLaughlin Photography )

“Donegal hit the post twice and missed a penalty and then we had to dig out an equaliser.

“They were the better team and better organised and Armagh must be concerned about not being able to win at home.”

He added: “But there is a huge difference in Donegal this year and I know that dropping down to Division Two, the standard is not as high, and you are not under as much pressure.

“But it is great to see Donegal using a high press and attacking at pace and that is very exciting and its high octane and its more exciting.

“I am very impressed, and I would expect them to beat Louth and I think that Donegal are just going too well and the competition for places on this Donegal team is crucial and Jim is using quite a number of players and time is getting short.”

Sweeney added that no matter what happens, though, this is Donegal’s foundation year.

“He wants to establish a couple of things and the draw for the Ulster Championship is really difficult as it’s the in-form Derry in Celtic Park,” he added.

“They [Derry] should have beaten Kerry last year, but Jim is putting all the bits of the puzzle together and it is going to plan.”