McGuinness move would be huge blow to Donegal


The potential departure of Jim McGuinness from Donegal to take up a professional role with Glasgow Celtic would be a major loss for the county he led to this year’s All-Ireland title.

The news that began to emerge after Celtic’s memorable defeat of Barcelona in the Champions League is further evidence of the price that has to be paid for the GAA’s amateur ethos – just like the migration of promising young players to Australia, most recently Dublin’s Ciarán Kilkenny.

The move had been rumoured for the past few weeks and McGuinness is believed to be interested in doing the job part-time so that he could remain on as Donegal manager but the implications of taking up the position are as yet unclear.

Whereas the GAA has sustained a modest loss of players to the AFL over the years this is the first time that a top-rank inter-county manager has been offered a job in professional sport.

McGuinness is unusual in the ranks of All-Ireland winning managers in that he has extensive academic qualifications in both sports science and sports psychology, in which he holds a masters degree. Such credentials are necessary in a professional sports club where a track record in Gaelic games, no matter how successful, would still have to be backed up with formal qualifications.

His sports psychology masters is believed to have been a key consideration in offering him the position as performance coach with the developing players and he won’t initially have a role with the first team.

McGuinness has been a guest at Celtic previously and when previous speculation flared about a possible move to soccer, he didn’t rule out the prospect.

“If a professional football team or any professional sporting organisation come in and say they’re interested in working with you or interested in talking to you. I’m a young man. I have three kids, a young family, so it’s obviously something you’d have to consider. My background is in sports science and in psychology, and that’s transferable to any sport.”

Immediately he is due to manage the 2012 All Stars on next week’s trip to New York. According to Croke Park sources last night, there has been no notification of any change in those plans.

The wider availability of third-level courses has greatly increased the number of graduates in sports science related areas and led to a cross-pollination between sports. A year ago Dublin’s All-Ireland winning captain Bryan Cullen was employed by Leinster rugby in the developmental role of sub-academy fitness coach.

Earlier this week another Dublin player Philip McMahon joined the backroom team of Shamrock Rovers’ new manager Trevor Croly as strength and conditioning coach. Last week Munster rugby fitness coach Fergal O’Callaghan was appointed trainer to the Tipperary hurlers by new manager Eamon O’Shea.

Meanwhile, former Tipperary manager John Evans was last night unanimously appointed as the new Roscommon football manager for a two-year term. Details of his selectors will be announced shortly.

Evans, who guided Tipperary to their first Munster under-21 football title, also worked last season with Séamus McEnaney in Meath.

The county board last night rubber-stamped the appointment, leaving Waterford as the only county without a football manager for next year.

Finally, Cork footballer Nicholas Murphy has announced his retirement. Murphy won an All-Ireland medal in 2010 and played in three other All-Ireland finals. He also won four National League medals from 2009-2012 and was selected on the 2006 All Star team.

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