JIM McGuinness described Dublin as “the most defensive team in the country” and admitted they reminded him of his own side from Donegal, winner of All Ireland in 2012.
The Glenties man believes football is on an intriguing ‘knife edge’ right now as teams adopt ‘the old Newcastle strategy where we outdo everyone’ and move away from more conservative tactics.
But he said the six-time All-Ireland champions Dublin remain outliers in this regard, happily bringing all of their players behind the ball if necessary and punishing the teams at the break.
“I was wondering this morning in my own head, when did we go from soccer to hurling?” McGuinness said at the launch of Sky Sports’ coverage of the GAA Championships.
“Because all the scores are now 0-18, 1-20, 1-21, 4-21 or whatever it is. It’s crazy how the game went.
“It’s the old Newcastle strategy where we beat everyone. To be fair, the only team in the country in my opinion that doesn’t fully embrace that is Dublin.
“Dublin were probably the most defensive team in the country (last year), there is absolutely no doubt about it, they had 15 men in their 65s almost every time the opposition had the ball.
“The difference is when Dublin gets the ball they’re absolutely brilliant, they’re brilliant at keeping the ball, they’re brilliant at running the ball, they’re brilliant at making the transition, they’re brilliant at hitting their scores.”
For McGuinness, it’s the perfect mix of defense and offense.
“You need both and Dublin have both at the minute. Our 2012 squad was not that far removed from the Dublin squad now,” he said.
McGuinness, who has assisted a number of GAA teams in 2020 including Galway and Louth champions Naomh Mairtin, is currently focused exclusively on football, working with the Derry U19s.
The former Celtic coach, who had a brief stint as manager of Charlotte Independence in the United States in late 2018 and 2019, has been linked with the SSE Airticity League team Dundalk.
“I’m still on a call, other than that there is nothing to report in terms of… there would be nothing to report anyway,” McGuinness said.
“I’m not that kind of person, I’m a private person so I think it’s important if you communicate with someone that it stays private and stays private until it goes somewhere and then if it’s going somewhere, obviously it’s time to open up and have these conversations and we’re not there yet. “
On Donegal, McGuinness marveled at Michael Murphy’s continued excellence.
“He took a trip taking his body type and body shape from a very big and strong forward to a leaner type of specimen that can play in the middle of the park,” he said. declared. “He now looks more like a midfielder than a complete striker so the transformation has been huge.”
McGuinness, however, had no good news for Tyrone fans.
“I don’t think they can win the All-Ireland, I don’t think they’re good enough from eight to win the All-Ireland,” he said. “But can they beat one of the best teams on any given day? They could.”
* Sky Sports have announced their 2021 GAA Championship fixtures, along with a roster of experts, commentators and presenters for the upcoming season. Sky Sports Arena will be home to GAA, with a total of 18 games broadcast on the channel, 12 of which are exclusive to Sky Sports.