Saturday 19 January 2019

'Donegal win didn't surprise me'

STANDING on the fringe of a ninth All-Ireland senior final with Kerry, Declan O'Sullivan has seen most things in this game and so it's not quite shocking to heat that Donegal's spectacular semi-final win over Dublin didn't quite shock him.

Hindsight or otherwise, O'Sullivan feels Dublin weren't worthy of their own billing.

"We played Dublin the previous year and they were a fantastic team but also they weren't the team people were building them up to be," he says now.

"And no better team than Donegal to exploit their weaknesses.

"For Dublin it was very difficult. They were being hyped up. They probably knew themselves that they hadn't really been tested. They knew Donegal would come with a great game plan and physicality and they hadn't met that all year."

Of Sunday, Kerry's first meeting with Jim McGuinness's team since the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final, he says: "It's a huge challenge for us to look at that and analyse it and come up with a plan ourselves but also believe in our own system. We have a good system that we are all buying into.

"It's important we stay true to that. Obviously it will be tailored a small bit but the most important thing is we don't deviate too much from it."

Sporting the most heavily strapped knees since Paul McGrath and entering his 70th Championship match at 30 years of age (not to mention his recent ascension to fatherhood) a victory on Sunday would - was he of a mind to end it there - draw a neat line under a spectacular career for O'Sullivan.

"That is the one trap you can't fall into and allowing your mind to wonder what if we win or lose or whatever," he suggests.

"The real focus is is on performance, is on training, how we deal with the razzmatazz of the final whereas you can't let you mind wonder.

"After the Mayo game we analysed where we can improve. We can analyse the opposition and see what they are good at, see can we find an advantage anywhere.

"It sounds very boring and people don't believe it but that is how we will approach it.

He concludes: "We will focus on performance and getting the basics right."

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