Dublin draw to dispatch Donegal to the drop
McGuinness plays down consequences of relegation
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness on the sideline at Ballybofey. Photograph: Donna McBride/Inpho/Presseye
Just over 18 months ago, a last-gasp point for Dublin condemned Kerry to runners-up spot in the All-Ireland. Yesterday in one of those mad slalom rides on the last day of the Allianz Football League season, Dublin made some restitution by nailing a point in the third minute of injury-time to snatch a draw from Donegal in Ballybofey.
This not alone relegated the All-Ireland champions but performed a late deliverance for Kerry, whose fast-shrivelling lead against Tyrone had just about remained intact when the match ended.
The win wouldn’t have been enough for Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s team had Donegal hung on to their lead, which they had managed to do for all but three minutes of the match.
Instead Paul Mannion swung over a fine point from play to tie things up and then the match ended.
The home support in a crowd of around 8,000 were not happy at the conclusion. Some decisions by replacement referee Michael Duffy – original official Pádraig Hughes had to be replaced after sustaining a leg injury in the second half – had displeased them as well as Donegal manager Jim McGuinness.
Becoming the first All-Ireland champions to get demoted in 12 years was hardly part of the plan but unhappy as he was, especially with a decision not to give his side a penalty, McGuinness played down the consequences.
“It isn’t the end of the world for us. It doesn’t make a difference for us. We don’t really like the League to be honest. We like to bring them down and make them fresh for championship to have them ready for the summer. It is very hard to balance that with winning games, particularly in Division One.
“It isn’t a big issue for us. We’ll rebuild in Division Two – not that we’ll be rebuilding but it’ll be a wee bit easier on us in terms of the opposition we’ll be playing. It’ll give us a chance to roll out our annual plan easier than it has been this year and last year. We have no problem with being relegated – it is just the manner it unfolded in.”
Dublin push on and are within two matches of a first league title in 20 years.