Part-time role leaves McGuinness free to manage Donegal


GAELIC GAMES:THE MOOD in Donegal yesterday oscillated between pride, relief and sadness. The eagerly-awaited announcement from Glasgow Celtic that All-Ireland-winning manager Jim McGuinness would be joining the club as a “performance consultant” was followed by the crucial disclosure that this would be a part-time involvement, allowing him to continue his role with the county.

Pride in the career achievement was matched by relief that he would still be directing Donegal’s bid for a first back-to-back All-Ireland sequence but also sadness because of the acknowledgement that if McGuinness’s new career flourishes it will hardly continue to be sustainable on a partial basis.

Speaking to Oisín Kelly on Donegal’s Highland Radio yesterday evening, McGuinness said his GAA commitments would not be seriously affected: “There’ll be no drop-off in my attendance at training or the input I’ll be making to the team.”

He also outlined his responsibilities and gratitude to Celtic for allowing him to pursue the two projects – “the best of both worlds,” as he described it. “The primary objective will be to work with the younger first-team players, the development squad players and some of the under-20 players, who are trying to make the breakthrough into the first team.

“It’s professional sport and obviously something you have to consider very seriously. It’s a great opportunity for me personally in terms of my own development and I suppose it’s a great opportunity at a Donegal level as well, as I’m working in a professional environment a number of days a week, which will be a great environment to learn skills I can bring back to Donegal.

“I have to be very, very thankful to Celtic Football Club for giving me the opportunity to do that. They’ve been very fair with me and given me the opportunity to stay on with the Donegal team and participate in all of the sessions and be at home for them. That flexibility has made the decision a lot easier.”

Brian McEniff, who managed the only previous Donegal team to have won an All-Ireland and who had McGuinness on that panel as a young player, said: “Congratulations. He’s given the county a great lift in recessionary times. We’re very proud of him.” Another predecessor and former team-mate Declan Bonnar expressed similar sentiments.

Speaking about the appointment, believed to be worth around €150,000 a year, Celtic manager Lennon revealed it was Celtic’s majority shareholder Irish financier Dermot Desmond who had been instrumental in the approach.

“Jim has a skill set that we don’t have here, in terms of the psychological side of the game. It is a huge part of sport. He will player profile the younger players, look at their strengths and weaknesses, study their background and their state of mind.

“He will not be able to coach, he is not a qualified football coach, but he does know sport and has excelled in his own sport. So the cross to football will not be a problem.

“He will predominantly work with younger players but if I feel there is a first-team player that would benefit from Jim’s skill I would have no hesitation in using him. It will have no effect on what he is doing at Donegal. He will probably initially come in two days per week and we will take it from there.”

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