Jim McGuinness has stepped down as Donegal senior football manager after four years in charge and winning one All-Ireland title.

In a statement released last night, the Donegal County Board thanked McGuinness for his "massive contribution" over the last five years as both U21 and senior manager.

"During this term he brought unprecedented success to our county and made every Donegal person across the globe very proud of their county and their players," the statement said.

McGuinness guided Donegal to the All-Ireland title in 2012 - their first win since 1992 - and won three Ulster championships.

Donegal were beaten by Kerry in this year's All-Ireland final.

He led an U21 team captained by Michael Murphy to the All-Ireland final in 2010, where they were beaten by Dublin.

"While we're disappointed, we respect his decision because he has made such a contribution to Donegal football," Donegal Chairman Sean Dunnion told the Irish Independent. "He has left a tremendous legacy."

"He took over the county when we were at one of our lowest ebbs and he took us to the greatest success rate in our history, reaching four Ulster finals in a row and winning the All-Ireland in 2012.

"To take that team from the lows of 2013 to winning Ulster again to within the width of a post of Kerry in the All-Ireland final.

"He has given every child in Donegal the will to play Gaelic football. The impact of Jim McGuinness will be felt for years to come."

Donegal players and supporters also alike paid tribute to McGuinness' achivements, with defender Eamon McGee saying he "cannot begin to express the gratitude that I owe this man".

Donegal's success under McGuinness was partly attributed to strict adherence to a counter-attacking game-plan based on a 'blanket' defence, which attracted strong criticism at times, most notably after their dour 0-8 to 0-6 defeat to eventual champions Dublin in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final.

The Glenties man shrugged off the brickbats to return the following year and lead his team all the way to the Sam Maguire.

Donegal retained the Ulster title for the first time in their history before beating Munster giants Kerry and Cork to set up an All-Ireland final with Mayo.

Early goals from captain Murphy and Colm McFadden gave the Ulster men a platform and they kept Mayo at arm's length to secure the county's second All-Ireland title.

Performances dipped in 2013 with defeat to Monaghan in the Ulster decider and a crushing loss to Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final but Donegal found top form again this year, regaining the Ulster title before suffering heartbreak against Kerry at the final hurdle.