Jim McGuinness - Irish Times

The only man to get one over on Jim Gavin in Championship. Guru, genius (call him what you will) but his columns are normally fairly spot on.

11/05/2016 Jim reckons the Dubs are beatable:

I like reading McGuinness mostly and he makes more sense than most a lot of the time. But there are usually a couple of things I take issue with and this article is no different ……

Is it fair that one team gets €4 million in sponsorship? Of course it is not. If you want to retain hope and faith, the structure must be looked at. But rather than criticise Dublin, the GAA should take its lead from what Dublin have done and replicate that across the country.

The GAA should sell the sponsorship rights in each county and the money should be pooled. All players and teams contribute to the All-Ireland so a certain percentage of the gate receipts should be redistributed to allow a better national coaching infrastructure. If, that is, the GAA is genuinely an amateur organisation which believes in fairness and in the equality of each county? All pigs are equal. Or are some pigs more equal than others?

I agree with Jim that the GAA should take its lead from what Dublin has done – but not in getting sponsorship – rather in getting our underage and coaching structures right – and with meaningful games from a very early age. This is the big reason Dublin are in the position they are now – not money. It is getting very tiring hearing people blaming everything on Dublin’s ‘wealth’ when they have done nothing in their own county to better their coaching and underage structures. I have been closely involved with underage in a near neighbouring county to Dublin – and supposed sleeping giant – and the underage set up is atrocious – a joke. And no sign of any improvement either. Only one county has ever contacted the DCB to ask about their strategy, planning etc. Nobody has ever rang the guy who organises thousands of underage games in both codes every year and asked for a few pointers. Throwing more funding at most of these counties who do not have basis structures or templates would be a waste of time and money.

I would also like to know where Jim plucked the €4m figure from – and is it an annual figure? Will Jim call on Donegal to put all their ‘private’ funding into this sponsorship pot – or is that money different? Will Kerry put the €1m they can raise in the US in the pot? Wouldn’t it be good to see this money going to coaching at grass roots level in their counties rather than warm weather training or week long training camps in posh hotels? Don’t you agree Jim?

There is plenty of money in the GAA for coaching but most counties don’t even have the most basic plan in place or indeed any kind of structure. So instead of crying about the big bad Dubs and all their money why not pick up the phone and ring someone like John Costello? I’m sure he’d be only too happy to share ideas and outline the work and massive volunteer effort that goes in at grassroots level.

So are the teams trying to beat Dublin this summer going to to do the smart thing that is required to actually beat Dublin?

Give Dublin the respect they deserve; fine-tune a very, very detailed game plan based on what Dublin are about. Then bring your strengths. Be cognisant of the fact that Dublin have six top quality forwards; that Stephen Cluxton brings what he brings; that they have a sweeper system. So what is the best way to get around that? You can’t just go in with a vague notion that you are good enough to beat this team. You need a game plan to get around Cian O’Sullivan.

The way I see it the easiest way to deal with the ‘sweeper system’ and the Beckenbauer role of Cian O’Sullivan is to play six forwards. IMO Cian has been ‘allowed’ play a sweeper role in most games because opposition managers have withdrawn at least one forward. If some team decides to go 6 forwards then I am sure we would play it man on man. That is why I do not believe that Cian is a sweeper – nor do we play a sweeper system – in the true sense of it. We do it because we are allowed by the teams that play us – and we do it very well.

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Nail meet hammer.
This is a point I’ve been trying to make along time now,
A lot of my country friends on this side of the world rave about how great a footballer Cian is, and agree he is probably the best sweeper the game has produced.
Cian is not a sweeper in the orthodox sense. But he is a rolls Royce footballer and when you give him time and space will dictate the pace of a game.
The problem here for other counties is they will not commit 6 forwards as they are terrified as to what will happen if the ball is turned over.
I like Jim McGuinness but he doesn’t have love the fact that he’s pretty much the only coach to get the better of this Dublin team and he’s not shy of letting people know.

It was already mentioned many times before but Jim will be dining out on that '14 win for the rest of his life and he will not be shy talking about it . Its just another indicator of how good this Dublin team are if somebody like him keeps bringing up that win like a badge of honour . Gas thing is where was this tactical genius when they lost to a fairly average Kerry team in the next game .
His Celtic gig won’t be around forever but if he could get a decent paying job bk in Ireland I don’t think we will see the last of him managing an inter county team .

He’ll not be back managing any IC team. He’s out to make it in the professional soccer world. His goal is to manage a celtic team. And he’s doing all the grades/ certs or whatever they are called to be qualified to do so. When JMcG puts his mind to something it comes about. I’d say in the coming years you’ll see him joint managing an underage Celtic or Scottish Club team.

McGuinness did actually do it though, and with a team that wouldn’t have the talent that the likes of Mayo have. So I do think he deserves credit for it.

But the money thing is a bit of a smokescreen. We have a population advantage for sure. But then again we are also the only county that is Div 1 in hurling and football, and we also have a professional rugby team and a few professional soccer teams, so the population thing is diluted a bit, but it is there. But likewise Donegal have a population advantage against other counties.

But the big difference for me at the moment comparing Dublin to other teams isn’t money or the like, it is how they are being trained. Dublin are being conditioned for athleticism and other counties for weight lifting or something. A lot of counties have just gone down the wrong road ( like Dublin did under Lyons and Caffery). Teams will adjust but they are a few years behind.

Interesting read & great reposte by @Dub09. Covered all the bases I think.

Credit to McGuinness for devising a plan in '14 & getting the players - some quite excellent ones, which seems to be continually overlooked - to execute it. There’s only so many times he can beat that drum though.

It still seems bizarre to me, however, that someone states the obvious i.e. that we could indeed be beaten (shock, horror!) & gets his article headlined as if he’s just discovered Mars. All of which just reinforces to me that there’s a fair level of paranoia out there among many gaels (nod to Brolly!) that we are actually this ‘unstoppable juggernaut’. Utter nonsense, of course, but it obviously sells. Seems we’re set for another Summer of numerous articles outlining (a) How to stop the Dubs or, (b) the unfairness of the Championship structure. Oh, joy.

I wonder what them foreign lads think of Jem. Fair play though … he never mentioned his brilliant plan to beat the Dubs once …

The game plan he lays out would cause Dublin’s back line serious problems but it would also leave the opposition with at least 4 players in Dublin’s half of the pitch which no team will do. One of the top teams will need 3 goals to beat Dublin this year. If Dublin sort out the lapses in concentration that happened on Saturday then I can’t see that happening.

We seen James McCarthy man marking Micheal Murphy in the league this year to good effect, I can see that tactic being deployed again this year against the likes of Murphy, O’Shea & Donaghy. He is made for the role, more than capable of the aerial battle and as fit as a fiddle so he can attack from deep and run the bigger lads into the ground.

I agree . I suppose Jim is anticipating that with our full back line occupied with two big players that the looping forwards could do the damage .

The problem as I see it is it presumes Dublin don’t then exploit the situation in the oppositions half .

Surely then if one of the two big forwards move to midfield on kickouts then we have a man in the full back line free to pick up an easy possession.

Jim would obviously love another crack at us .

Firstly I think it is great that the whole discussion in the GAA world is how to beat Dublin, that means we are on top. What I like about McGuinness’s plan is it is more or less what I was thinking myself, what I don’t like about it is that it is more or less what I was thinking myself - and I ain’t no experienced county manager.

But it has to be a concern having one of the smallest full back lines around the place, if they had to face both Donaghy and Moran for instance, with O Donoghue running off them - that would be a real issue. But… you would have to think that it is such an obvious problem that there has to be a plan B for it.

In 2014 we weren’t being talked about as this almost invincible force so there wasn’t the same critiquing of the Dublin play (coupled with the fact that they were more adventurous that year then any other year), so hopefully the same complacency in our game plan isn’t there now. The main fault with '14 is that they thought they could handle whatever was thrown at them without changing formation and they couldn’t.

Keeping O Sullivan occupied is also an obvious thing to do. He is only allowed play sweeper because every other team is playing a man short in the forwards. By definition nearly you can’t have a sweeper system without bringing another man back from midfield or the forwards, but Dublin overcome that by other teams playing short in the forwards. If you keep a man up to occupy O Sullivan you are going man to man with the Dublin forwards - that would suit our guys I reckon.

McGuinness doesn’t rate Byrne, based on his comments - that is probably ok too. I would be comfortable enough with other teams targeting him as I think he can stand up to almost anyone. But Fitzsimons is there anyway if there is an issue.

But the biggest obstacle we will face this year is if Jim G is so sure of his game plan that he has no Plan B or Plan C in place, and after 2014 I don’t see that happening.

That’s my one major issue with what he is proposing.

Not once has he actually counteracted how to stop us as an attacking force.

Let’s call a spade a spade (I know this is trawling over old ground) but he was extremely lucky in 2014. He gambled on drawing us out and it paid off. Had we shown more composure in the 2nd half, you never know what might have happened.

Every Dubs fan worth their salt will know that we have a potential weakness in our full back line but is there really the firepower available in other counties to REALLY take advantage of it?

I see mcguiness writing about his favourite subject, how to beat Dublin. Wonder what next week article will be about how to beat Dublin and milk it for years afterwards?

Considering he is the last man to do it when it matters and Dublin played this weekend it seems like a good topic to sell papers.

Facing two big men inside is a realistic prospect this year, and as we have seen before we have a plan for that - Paul Flynn.

Just re-read the article… You may agree or disagree with him, but he is light years ahead of anyone else writing on the game.


Agreed, he actually gives a solid tactical breakdown of games and his own opinion on what can be done to remedy and/or counter act. Others are too focused on anecdotes from their past or use too many tired old cliches and comparisons to teams and games in the distant past.

The only GAA articles that I read and feel like I have actually gained some knowledge on the modern game.

In saying that there is clearly a market for the anecdotal, cliche driven pieces.