McGuinness to lead All Stars in New York


Jim McGuinness will continue to find himself the centre of attention this week after confirming his presence on the GAA All Star football tour to New York – and with that a potentially awkward reunion with two-time Donegal All Star Kevin Cassidy.

The 37-strong travelling party, which departs tomorrow, has been confirmed by the GAA, with McGuinness taking charge of the 2012 All Star team that will play the 2011 selection in New York’s Gaelic Park on Saturday evening.

It had been unclear whether McGuinness would still travel, having announced last week that he was accepting a new role as performance consultant with Glasgow Celtic FC, while also continuing as Donegal football manager.

The trip, however, is part reward for guiding Donegal to only their second All-Ireland, and with the 2012 selection featuring a record-equalling eight players from his county, it would have been hard on him to miss out.

So with that comes the reunion with Cassidy, albeit on opposing teams this time, as he too is confirmed to travel as part of the 2011 All Star selection (having also collected an All Star in 2002).

McGuinness dropped Cassidy from the Donegal panel late last year, following his controversial contribution to the book on Ulster football, This Is Our Year, and Cassidy was also left off the Donegal team holiday to Florida last December.

McGuinness has since claimed those difficulties are in the past, only to reignite the controversy when insisting the author of This Is Our Year, Declan Bogue, be removed from the post All-Ireland victory press conference in Croke Park, in September – and if anyone pressed McGuinness further on the matter then he would leave too.

Cassidy, meanwhile, has maintained a close friendship with some of the Donegal players, particularly Gweedore team-mates Neil and Eamon McGee – but given the close nature of the All Star tour, with several other functions organised around the game itself, it will be impossible to avoid some contact with McGuinness, or indeed the strong travelling media party.

The tour will also see former Dublin football manager Pat Gilroy return to the sidelines, as he takes charge of 2011 selection, again as part reward for guiding his county to last year’s All-Ireland title: “It’s the standard procedure,” explained GAA communications manager, Alan Milton, “that the All-Ireland-winning managers of both those years take charge of the All Star selections.”

However there are plenty of enforced changes in the actual All Star selections: firstly, three players were named on both the All Star teams of 2011 and 2012 (Karl Lacey and Neil McGee from Donegal, and also Dublin’s Paul Flynn), while three players from the 2011 team are injured at present (Mayo’s Andy Moran and Alan Brogan and Dublin’s Michael Dara Macauley), although the trio will still be travelling.

Between other injuries and unavailability (including 2011 All Star goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton), 12 players have been called up as replacements – including Kerry veteran Tomás Ó Sé, Cork dual player Eoin Cadogan, Wexford’s Ben Brosnan, and Anthony Thompson from Donegal, who missed out on an actual All Star.

Saturday’s game at Gaelic Park in the Bronx is at 6pm (New York local time), with Maurice Deegan from Laois as match referee.

There will also be a special curtain-raiser between the New York Police Department and the Fire Department New York (at 4pm), while the Gaelic Players Association (GPA), who now jointly present the All Stars with the GAA, stage a special fund-raising event on Thursday, with the inaugural Ireland-US Gaelic Heritage awards. The touring party arrives back home next Tuesday.

In the meantime the Donegal County Board has issued a statement on McGuinness’s new role. “We wish to congratulate senior football team manager Jim McGuinness on his appointment as performance analyst with Glasgow Celtic. The Donegal County Board can confirm Jim McGuinness will continue in his role as team manager."

All Stars tour: Travelling party:

2011 All Stars: P Flynn (Dublin), Marc Ó Sé (Kerry), B Sheehan (Kerry), K Lacey (Donegal), A Brogan (Dublin), K Cassidy (Donegal), A Moran (Mayo), B Brogan (Dublin), K Nolan (Dublin), M Darragh Macauley (Dublin), D O’Sullivan (Kerry), N McGee (Donegal), M Foley (Kildare).

2012 All Stars (as travelling):

A Dillon (Mayo), A Walsh (Cork), L Keegan (Mayo), C O’Neill (Cork), N Gallagher (Donegal), M McHugh (Donegal), M Murphy (Donegal), P Durcan (Donegal), K Higgins (Mayo).

2011/2012 Replacements:

E Cadogan (Cork), B Brosnan (Wexford), T Ó Sé (Kerry), B Kealy (Kerry), C O’Connor (Mayo), K McLoughlin (Mayo), A Thompson (Donegal), R O’Carroll (Dublin), J McMahon (Tyrone), K McManamon (Dublin), D O’Connor (Cork), Paul Kerrigan (Cork).

(Note: Double All Stars winners, 2011 and 2012, are Karl Lacey (Donegal), Neil McGee (Donegal) and Paul Flynn (Dublin).

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