Jim McGuinness carries on plotting in Glasgow
Celtic work only adding to Donegal coach’s expertise and extra free time a big plus too
Donegal head coach and Celtic FC performance consultant Jim McGuinness at the launch of the youth leadership programme Let’s Go Lead Through Sport at Croke Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
In the continually impressive process of winning matches Jim McGuinness reckons he is bringing more from his role as performance consultant with Celtic FC than even he could have realised – or at least those who questioned whether his commitment to Donegal football could still be as complete.
“You would be picking up things all the time,” he says. “The big thing, for me, is how they prepare the players for matches, have them ready physically and mentally, how the coaches coach, and how they get their message across.
“You are standing back, trying to be useful by getting balls and stuff, but the reality is you can see an awful lot of what is going on, watching the development of players, the sports science side of it, the recovery, the individual programmes, all that sort of stuff.”
Indeed since McGuinness took up his role in Celtic, last November, there has been little to suggest Donegal won’t be every bit as strong in 2013: relegation from Division One aside, they comfortably handled the challenge of Tyrone in the Ulster quarter-final, and although without All-Ireland winners Karl Lacey and Neil McGee for Sunday’s semi-final against Down, the Donegal manager has lost none of his confident tone, either.
In commuting to Glasgow, for a three-day week, McGuinness also reckons he has had more time to plot the downfall of teams like Down: “Yeah, I probably have more time, because I have the couple of nights over where I am on my own. Once I get my work finished up I can do a bit of work on Donegal.
Freed up time
“I have three kids at home, so you wouldn’t get that sort of head space with them. It has freed up time for me in many respects. Even when you’re travelling you are just sitting on a plane reading or whatever. It has been very good. Then you have the benefit of being in a professional environment and seeing the inner workings of it.”
He sees direct parallels too between the professional soccer player and his so-called amateurs in Donegal:
“They’re all very driven. Our lads in Donegal are very, very driven. They want to win. They don’t think it’s a God given right to win. They know they have to work very hard to win. If we want to win the game on Sunday, we have to work extremely hard and perform if we are to win. That’s a mentality and a mindset that the players have now. The boys in Glasgow are exactly the same. They’re desperate to make it. For these lads, it’s their job.”
McGuinness is equally proud of the fact that every one of his All-Ireland winners are now in full-time employment, at least partly thanks to their success on the field last September.