On taking over as Donegal manager, Jim McGuinness always believed that the players were there to make the county a formidable force again.

The Glenties man had gained success at club level and in 2010 brought the county’s U-21 side to an All-Ireland final where they narrowly lost to Dublin.

That was enough to finally convince the county board that he was the man to oversee the senior squad that had just come off the back of a miserable championship campaign.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Brian Carthy, McGuinness looked back on his time in charge so far, just days out from their All-Ireland final clash with Mayo.

“It’s been well documented that I went for the job three times. I know many men wouldn’t have persisted, but I believed in the players.

"I believed we had talented players in the county that were good enough to perform at the highest level." - Jim McGuinness

"I believed we had talented players in the county that were good enough to perform at the highest level. I was keen to work with them. Two Ulster championships and an All-Ireland final appearance are proof that much progress has been made.

“For the previous few years, Donegal football attracted a lot of bad press. When I took over, I felt the lads would work hard and knuckle down and that’s exactly what they’ve done. They find themselves now in a very privileged position where every footballer in the country would like to be.

“It’s a big opportunity for the group and a chance to win the final. We’re hoping that all the work that’s been done will bring them to a level that will make the side competitive. If we’re competitive, we’ll have a chance of winning the match.”

Part of McGuinness’ success has been his ability to make hard calls, but he is keen to stress that fostering a good team ethic is just as important.

“I think you have to make hard decisions and everything you do hinges on the decisions you make. My own philosophy since taking over has been based on respect.

"Everybody from the youngest player in the squad to the oldest has equal voting rights; an equal voice, but yet will all work for the betterment of the team”

Looking ahead to the Mayo challenge, he added: “Mayo have lost a few finals in recent times and a result of that will be very hungry and have a huge desire inside them to rectify those wrongs. The final is very well set as there is a huge hunger in our lads as well.”