Jim McGuinness and Pat Shovelin (right) on the sideline for Donegal. “It meant the world to Pat to be involved with Donegal, and he was so proud of the boys. And I just hope he knew that they were proud of him too.”  Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho

I have often spoken about the bond that I felt the Donegal boys had. Pat was the glue

Dublin were left in a far better place by Donal Vaughan’s red card. The whole outcome changed on that instant. Photograph: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

An All-Ireland was there but Vaughan’s red card and not managing the end game lost it for them

Sam Maguire Cup. I think it will be close and that, ultimately, it could come down to hunger. And I just don’t see Mayo being denied if that is the definitive virtue. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Pressurising Dublin ball-carriers and limiting their options essential for challengers

Pat Gilroy: It was under his watch that Dublin began to run the senior football team as a business. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Proper funding and streamlined coaching in weaker counties can in time reap results

Dejected Tyrone players leave the field at Croke Park. None of the qualities we took for granted with them were evident on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Bafflingly inept display by Ulster side made semi-final a stroll in the park for Gavin’s men

Andy Moran: was a joy to watch. His movement and game intelligence was exemplary. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpo

They need to win the middle-third battle and improve on their own kick-outs

“If they don’t win, I feel their legacy should be that they had simply nothing left to give and it wasn’t quite enough. And there is no shame in that.” Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Great drama awaits and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Tyrone in the final – or Mayo

Dublin’s Paul Mannion in action against  Drew Wylie of Monaghan during the  All-Ireland SFC quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Champions yet to be tested and there's no guarantee they have the answers

Galway’s Damien Comer breaks through the challenge of Kerry’s  Mark Griffin during the All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Tommy Grealy/Inpho

Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side showed chinks in their armour in Galway game

Roscommon celebrate as Niall Kilroy lifts the Nestor Cup following their victory over Galway in the Connacht final at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Outsiders are going to have to try something new if Dublin or Kerry are to be stopped

Tyrone players stand for the national anthem ahead of the final  against Down in Clones. They are almost as good as they are going to be. Is that good enough? Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ulster title victory showed Mickey Harte’s side are now a real threat to Dublin

Joy unconfined as Niall Kilroy lifts the Connacht title for Roscommon in Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Connacht title success proved to be sweet vindication for Kevin McStay and his players

Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly with manager Jim Gavin after being sent off in the quarter-final against Donegal. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Manager likely spoke out to sharpen sense of fraternity in Dublin as they seek three in a row

Kevin McKernan of Down celebrates  at the final whistle of the  Ulster SFC semi-final against Monaghan   at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Photograph: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Eamonn Burns’s excellent game plan and his players’ execution was a joy to behold

Donegal’s Patrick McBrearty tackles Tyrone’s Cathal McCarron during the Ulster semi-final at  Clones. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

With some tweaking, Rory Gallagher’s side are good enough to bounce back from defeat

Jonny Wilkinson kicks the winning drop goal to give England victory in extra-time in  the Rugby World Cup Final against Australia in Sydney in 2003. Photograph:  Dave Rogers/Getty Images

Unlike some rivals, they lack a clinical game plan in attack when the game is on the line

Dublin warm up in front their fans in Portlaoise. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Amateur? Like Mr Seligman’s dogs, most counties feel there’s nothing they can do

Like Brendan Rodgers, the meticulous Mickey Harte is squeezing every percentage possible out of the team’s carefully assembled game plan. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye/Inpho

Like Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers, Mickey Harte is extracting the maximum from his players

Donegal’s Paddy McGrath celebrates with Paddy McBrearty after scoring his team’s second goal against Antrim in Ballybofey. Photograph: John McIlwaine/Inpho

Donegal, Monaghan and Tyrone all harbour realistic hopes of claiming provincial glory

Dublin’s Vinny Murphy with Mick Lyons of Meath battle for the ball during the Leinster semi-final first replay in 1991. Photo: Inpho

Meath need to step up and create a challenge for Dublin, similar to what we have in Ulster

Referee Maurice Deegan black cards Jonny Cooper. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

In a very real and terrible way, the black card dominated the All-Ireland football final

Dublin’s Jonny Cooper and Mayo’s Andy Moran will most likely be renewing acquaintances in the replayed All-Ireland final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Champions will be keen to get back to high-tempo style abandoned in drawn final

Mayo’s Lee Keegan and Dublin’s Diarmuid Connolly: “Connolly is a frightening proposition and the way Lee coped with him was impressive.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

If Dublin are back to normal for the replay, their offensive threat may be too much

The Donegal players were inspired as they listened on the radio to Michael Carruth win an Olympic gold medal in Barcelona 1992. At the end of that week, the county won the All-Ireland final.Photograph: James Meehan/Inpho

Connacht men will need to bring something different if they are to dethrone Dublin

Donegal’s Michael Murphy: “The best player in Donegal for the last number of years has been Murphy and I don’t know anyone as obsessive about the game as him.” Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

The commitment shown by Tipperary is the foundation of building a winning tradition

Titanic struggle: Dean Rock of Dublin commiserates with  Marc Ó Sé of Kerry after the All-Ireland SFC semi-final on Sunday, which Dublin won by 0-22 to 2-14. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

All-Ireland SFC semi-final not only matched the hype of the occasion; it rose above it

Mayo’s Colm Boyle and Lee Keegan tackle Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan. There is a price to pay for taking all those tackles. Every heavy hit softens you up to some extent. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

If they go missing for a full 35 minutes, would Mayo survive against Dublin or Kerry?

 Tipperary’s Conor Sweeney  celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against Galway in the quarter-final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mayo’s experience gives them the edge but confident Munster men will put it up to them

Get ready for an epic double-bill in Croke Park on Saturday. Four teams convinced they can win

Kendra Harrison wins the women’s 100m hurdles in a world record 12.20 seconds at the London Anniversary Games  at the Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Kirby Lee/USA Today

Knowledge, experience, game plan – just three of the fundamentals for success

Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh under pressure from the Donegal defence. He guided his team to the Ulster title in Clones with some inspirational late points. Photograph: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan

I felt Tyrone’s drive and mentality was coming from something bigger or beyond themselves

 Damien Comer of Galway is stopped by Sean Mullooly of Roscommon during last Sunday’s drawn Connacht final. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Negative style has become a parody of what Donegal tried to achieve

Michael Murphy scored five points in Donegal’s 0-17 to 2-10 Ulster SFC semi-final replay victory over Monaghan at Breffini Park on Saturday. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho.

Ulster championship a prize both rivals will be aiming for with all their efforts

Monaghan and Donegal renew Ulster rivalry. They say familiarity breeds contempt but it can also breed respect. Photograph: Andrew Paton/Inpho

The Republic of Ireland, Donegal and Monaghan share the same basic traits

Declan Kyne tries to block down Mayo’s Seamus O’Shea at MacHale Park in Castlebar, where Galway prevented their provincial rivals from continuing their quest for a sixth Connacht title in a row. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Big question now is how Connacht’s most dominant team respond to Galway setback

Michael Murphy leads the Donegal team on to the pitch at Ballybofey before their match against Fermanagh. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Inpho/Presseye

The way championship is unfolding deepens my conviction that reform is needed

Dublin’s John Cooper launches an  attack against Laois. Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rivals to champions should be preparing now for potential meeting later in season

Cavan’s Michael Argue in action against Armagh’s Joe McElroy. Cavan people feel that their team is on the move. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Watching Atletico Madrid fail to bring their ‘A’ game revived memories of Donegal 2014

Saracens’ Brad Barritt lifts the European Champions Cup trophy after victory over Racing 92. “I have a soft spot for Saracens ever since I spent a day at the club last year.” Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Sport the common language at a moving event in Glasgow for a Celtic and Donegal fan

Dublin celebrate another All-Ireland victory in front of Hill 16 last September. “My feeling is that they are beatable. They absolutely are beatable.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

‘I believe Mayo have the potential to beat Dublin in an All-Ireland final’

Jim McGuinness in action for UUJ against Noel McGuire of UCD during the 2001 Sigerson Cup Final. Photograph: Tom Honan/Inpho

‘The notion of PE teaching was appealing to me but only as a very vague dream. I might as well have decided I wanted to be an astr(...)

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness celebrates with Neil  and Eamonn McGee after the victory over Dublin in the 2014 All-Ireland semi-final at Croke Park. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

In an exclusive extract from his memoir `Until Victory Always', published on October 30th, the former Donegal manager revisits the(...)

Donegal’s Paddy McGrath collapses to the ground dejected at the end of this year’s Ulster SFC final against Monaghan. Photograph: Inpho

This isn’t about a holiday, it’s about respect for people who have given their all to Donegal

Cian O’Sullivan: despite a recent hamstring injury, he was deemed fit enough to play and, as it transpired, he executeed the sweeper role to perfection. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin defence much more difficult to penetrate with O’Sullivan playing a pivotal role

Kerry will expect David Moran to capitalise in centrefield against Dublin in the All-Ireland football final at Croke Park on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Counties outside big two have much ground to make up if they are to challenge

Dublin had a detailed game plan to cope with Aidan O’Shea, with Mayo setting up how Jim Gavin expected. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Dublin took advantage as Connacht champions failed to do right things to protect lead

Philly McMahon battles with Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea. Dublin had a plan for O’Shea and it worked well but may have have been really troubled had Barry Moran joined him in the full forward line. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side are more well-rounded but westerners look like team on crusade

Tyrone’s Justin McMahon tussles with Kieran Donaghy. Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s dedcision to introduce Paul Geaney for Donaghy at half-time had the desired effect for Kerry.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Mickey Harte’s side had their homework done but Kingdom’s self-belief saw them through

Key men: Aidan O’Shea offers Mayo a new attacking dimension while Cian O’Sullivan is Dublin’s designated sweeper. Photograph: Inpho

Dublin well placed to extend Mayo’s cycle of hurt but pain of losing is a powerful driver

Donegal’s Neil McGee is unable to prevent Mayo’s Aidan O’Shea breaking free to score the opening goal in last Saturday’s  All-Ireland Gaelic Football quarter-final  in Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht champions are better placed than ever to win football’s ultimate prize

A Fermanagh fan cheers on her team during Sunday’s quarter-final against Dublin in Croke Park. “They were 10 points down with 15 minutes go to and you would think they were the team winning.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Changes need to be made, money to be spent, otherwise all we have in Gaelic football could be lost

Dejected Cork manager Brian Cuthbert: “Cork were asked to take part in a race on Saturday night from a standing start while their opponents were already sprinting.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

It is almost impossible to recover from a Munster final replay defeat in just seven days

Donegal’s Michael Murphy in action against Monaghan’s Vinny Corey and Darren Hughes. It seemed to me Murphy played injured at Clones. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Despite this painful Ulster final defeat, I wouldn’t be writing Donegal off just yet

Diarmuid Connolly holds off Paul Sharry and John Gilligan. He was  the best Dublin forward in terms of dealing with the pressure Westmeath exerted. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jim Gavin has yet to fully solve coaching conundrum

Kieran Donaghy scores Kerry’s first goal in their drawn Munster Senior Football Championship Final clash with Cork last Sunday. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Cork have made significant ground but need to improve by same distance to beat Kerry

Jim Gavin shakes hands with Kildare manager Jason Ryan (left) at Croke Park. The Dublin manager has reshaped his side’s defensive set-up to good effect.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Jim Gavin’s side’s central tenet this summer is they will not be exposed down the middle

David Kelly, seen here getting the better of Roscommon’s Seán McDermott, was part of a two-man full-forward line for Sligo on Sunday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Niall Carew’s game plan was perfectly tailored to the players at his disposal

Mayo’s defensive shortcomings were exposed by the manner of Gary Sice’s goal for Galway on Sunday at Pearse Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Concession of costly goals will continute until exposed full back line are better protected

A revamped football season would still likely witness Kerry celebrating All-Ireland wins in front of Hill 16 but it would give so-called weaker counties added incentive. Photograph: Alan Betson

Provincial championships and league should be integrated into two-tiered competition

Longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum lies prone after conceding Dublin’s  fourth goal. Here was a match completely devoid of the so-called blanket defence approach and there seemed to be uniform agreement that it was a very poor spectacle. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Playing strong teams like Dublin as Longford did only ensures an inevitable heavy beating

‘The Sunday Game’ pundits Joe Brolly, Pat Spillane and Colm O’Rourke watch a game in Croke Park with the show’s presenter Michael Lyster. Former Derry footballer Brolly has apologised for making a comment about RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey  at half-time in the Cavan-Monaghan game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

‘The Sunday Game’ is supposed to exude class but there are times it is just crass

Referee Joe McQullian books Donegal’s Neil Gallagher and Tyrone’s Seán Cavanagh following one of the many incidents during the Ulster SFC clash  at Ballybofey. Photograph: Lorcan Doherty/Presseye/Inpho

But Tyrone still have lots to offer and can reach latter stages of the championship

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