The former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has dispelled reports that he is set to join the Down senior Gaelic football squad in a coaching role. McGuinness has been working in professional soccer since stepping away from Gaelic games in 2014. He recently coached the Derry City under-19s team to the national cup with a win after a 5-4 penalty shootout against Bohemians.
A series of reports this week have linked McGuinness to the Down ticket, working in some capacity with manager Conor Laverty. But McGuinness has made it clear that he intends pursuing his interest in working in soccer for the season ahead.
“Over the course of the winter months a number of county teams have been in contact with me with a view to manager’s jobs and coaching roles,” he told the Irish Times on Thursday.
“I spoke with all of them because I do love coaching and out of respect, really. You are going to listen to what someone has to say. And I told them all the same story - that I am very much focused on soccer at the moment and waiting to see what might happen or not happen at the end of the season.”
McGuinness’s involvement with soccer dates back to an approach from Celtic after his radical impact on the fortunes of the Donegal senior team, with whom he won a first Ulster title in 19 years and, in 2012, an All-Ireland senior title. He continued to manage and coach the Donegal team while involved with Celtic for a further two years.
Since then, he has been obtaining his coaching licenses and has had various coaching roles, including a period in Beijing under Roger Schmidt and a season in the North American League with the Charlotte Independence. After returning home to Donegal in 2020, he began working with Derry City, culminating in the successful under-19 cup run in which he coached alongside Gerald Boyle and Shaun Holmes. His name has been linked with several vacant GAA roles and he has given occasional coaching sessions to the Donegal and Galway senior teams. His name has also been linked with several League of Ireland vacancies over the past couple of seasons and he has made no secret of his wish to further his coaching career in soccer.
“It was, thankfully, a very successful season for us and it was really enjoyable,” he said of Derry City.
“And I am concentrating on that right now. And that’s all there is to it, really. The only Gaelic football team I am coaching at the moment is the local under-12s as I have two children involved.”