Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Jim McGuinness urged to give it another go with Donegal

Still the one: Jim McGuinness has received widespread backing despite Donegal's heavy defeat against Mayo

Normally when a team exits the All-Ireland football quarter-finals on the receiving end of a 16-points pasting calls for the manager's head reach a deafening crescendo.

Jim McGuinness's once-proud Donegal team may have been rent asunder by Mayo on Sunday – 4-17 to 1-10 – but this is portrayed as nothing more than a blot on what is still considered one of the most impressive CV's in Irish sport.

An All-Ireland crown, two Ulster titles and an Allianz League Division Two prize garnered in a three-year term testify to progress that up until 2011 would have been deemed nothing more than a fanciful notion.

This explains just why county board chairman Sean Dunnion, a host of club officials and many at grassroots level are lending their voices to the chorus for McGuinness to remain in his post.

A black flag may be hovering over the Donegal side right now but Dunnion makes it clear that a prolonged period of mourning will achieve nothing.

"Obviously it is completely up to Jim McGuinness what decision he makes in relation to his future but the overwhelming view is that he should stay as Donegal manager," declares Dunnion.

"He has brought the county spectacular success and in the process provided an excellent service to football.

"He was given a four-year term in the expectation that it would take time to see progress achieved but up until just over a week ago we were in the running for three consecutive Ulster titles and a second All-Ireland prize on the trot.

"We should not forget this considering the place in which we were when Jim took over."

That was most certainly not a comfortable location. In a traumatic All-Ireland qualifier against Armagh in Crossmaglen in 2010, Jamie Clarke twice popped the ball into the Donegal net in the first eight minutes to effectively administer the last rites to John Joe Cunningham's turbulent term as boss.

McGuinness subsequently stepped into the breach and began to re-write the history books, imposing his own discernible imprimatur on just about everything.

Today, as McGuinness reflects on his future, he will be fully aware of the huge level of goodwill he enjoys with former playing colleagues, such as new county minor boss Declan Bonner, weighing in with their support.

"Jim has brought Donegal to new heights and while we suffered a big defeat on Sunday, he is still capable of getting the team back up there.

"He has brought wonderful success to the county in his role to date and that's something that should not be lost sight of," says Bonner.

McGuinness, though, has various factors to consider before arriving at any decision.

His wife is due to give birth to twins at the end of September – the couple already have three children under six – and he is heavily committed to his role with Glasgow Celtic.

In addition, several of the current crop of players may decide to call time on their careers.

For the moment, Donegal must hold its collective breath.

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