Following his retirement this week, Donegal legend Frank McGlynn has told Off the Ball why 'hard work' brought the county to the All-Ireland title in 2012.
An All-Star in 2012, versatile defender McGlynn said goodbye to the senior football inter-county scene this week after 14 years.
In 2009, Cork mauled Donegal by 14 points in an All-Ireland quarter final. McGlynn and his team-mates thought things were going well until then.
It took new manager Jim McGuinness to change their mindset:
"We went on a great run in the qualifiers and during that time, when you were a part of the group, you weren't simply stepping back and thinking to yourself, God, we're not doing enough here. You always thought you were at the level and close to the summit at those times. When you did get those heavy defeats, such as Cork, I do think it probably was a factor in us winning in 2012. It was the same core group of players in 2009 that suffered that defeat that were still there in 2011 and 2012. I suppose there was an extra level of performance to be found there, and when Jim McGuinness took over at the end of 2010, he made it pretty obvious to us that we had underachieved."
There are always questions about how success comes about, but there was a simple reason for Frank McGlynn why Donegal reached the All-Ireland summit in 2012:
"A lot of it was based on hard work. When you look back over the memories, a lot of the training sessions and the pre-seasons come to mind a lot quicker than the days of the All-Ireland semi-finals or finals. That's the one thing that really stood to us throughout that time; the hard work you had done throughout the year, it was always in the back of your mind to tap into when things did get tough in games."
In the last seven All-Ireland Championships, Donegal are the only team to have defeated a Jim Gavin side. McGlynn feels a positive mindset is the key to another county lowering Dublin's colours:
"Every team on their day is beatable. It's a mammoth task. Every team that goes in to play Dublin, first of all they have to have the belief that they have the ability to beat Dublin. At the minute, Dublin are making it so difficult for any team to get the better of them. They have the answers and they come up with the answers, no matter what's thrown at them. That's been shown in the last five years."
The Gooch was his toughest opponent:
"Colm Cooper, I marked him in probably the early part of my career at corner back one day in Kerry in a League match. He certainly gave me a good runaround, it was a good eye opener for me. It just goes to show how football can change pretty quickly. A couple of years later, you are getting the better of a Kerry team in an All-Ireland football quarter final."
Donegal All-Star Michael Murphy is the best player he's played with:
"Just for his sheer football ability, taking aside the leadership qualities that he's showed as a captain. Taking over in 2011, he's driven the whole team by his actions and his words."
McGlynn has faith that Declan Bonner's men are not far off from lifting the Sam Maguire Cup again:
"I don't think we're far at all. If you look at the Super 8 runs that we went on since they've been introduced, we've probably put ourselves into a great position going into the final game in both years. You had Tyrone in Ballybofey in the first year of the Super 8's and then we'd Mayo in Castlebar last year. Looking back on last year's Super 8's, part of me thinks we would have been better losing that game against Kerry as it may have focused the minds a bit more heading down to Castlebar."
The Tier 2 Championship has come in for criticism, and while Donegal are not in the firing line of the changes, McGlynn says it places more focus on the National League:
"It's very hard for someone like myself who has played in the Division 1, Division 2 category for most of my career to say how the Tier 2 Championship will go. I do feel that the counties involved in the Tier 2 Championship probably should have had more of a say in the implementation when it's affecting them indirectly. League has become even more competitive. Even as a Division 1 county, you don't want to be dropping into Division 2, because the following year then you could be looking over your shoulder. You know one bad season, one bad run, a couple of injuries and you could end up down in Tier 2. Me personally, probably I'm a bit of a man for tradition. I would rather see the smaller counties having a good day out or maybe having a surprise victory for themselves. Maybe the Tier 2 counties will look at it differently."
The Glenfin clubman decided it was time to give other players a chance in the gold and green inter-county jersey:
"Having looked back over the last year, it was just a few signs from injuries and the way the body was going. While it was still enjoyable, and I still came out with another Ulster title, it was probably always in the back of the mind that I was giving it one more year."
And believe it or not, Seamus Coleman is not the only Donegal man to have played with former Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney!
"We played together in a soccer Milk Cup tournament up in Portrush and Portstewart, around the Coleraine area. At that time, at Under 15's in the Milk Cup, the coaches and players even at that time were picking him out as one of the ones that would definitely make it. The question was always asked, who will make it? He was the one person that the coaches would have said 'He's got it'. That definitely worked out for him."