Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Celtic job will help Donegal succeed, says Jim McGuinness

Jim McGuinness feels Donegal will get even better

Jim McGuinness has rubbished suggestions that his new part-time job as performance consultant with Celtic will impinge on his capacity to fuel the obsession required to take Donegal onto another level.

“Other managers have jobs too. Does that impact on their role as managers? Rory Gallagher (his assistant) is running a shop and has got 40 staff. Is that disrupting his focus with Donegal? No.

“Conor Counihan has a big job too. Does that take away his focus from Cork? I don't think so,” said McGuinness, who will link up with the Scottish giants on a formal basis on Monday week.

“You would need to ask other managers. Does their day job impact on the job that they do with the county team? My role with Celtic won't be an issue at all as far as Donegal are concerned.”

Over the past two years, he usually worked with the Donegal players on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday — with some Saturdays thrown in if required — and insisted there would be no fundamental change to the programme.

His deal with Celtic allows him to fit in his commitments with them around the Donegal schedule, an arrangement which he believes will work well.

In fact, he is convinced that Donegal will benefit from his links with Celtic.

“When I'm at home, I can focus solely on Donegal. There's not a manager in the country that has that situation.

“It's about how you use the time. I will be living in Glasgow a few nights a week and I can spend that time working on things I want to do with Donegal,” he said.

McGuinness also believes that what he learns from a professional set-up will be hugely beneficial to Donegal, whose fans will be delighted to hear that he is not planning a permanent move to Celtic.

“I'm happy with the job I'm in,” he said, also revealing that he was not planning to pursue soccer coaching badges.

McGuinness has flashed out a warning that will strike fear into the hearts of contenders for next year's All-Ireland football title by claiming that Donegal have reached only two-thirds of their potential so far.

If he's right — and they were still good enough to win an All-Ireland, plus successive Ulster titles, over two seasons in which they powered to 12 wins from 13 Championship games — then the future is all gold for Donegal, even if they have to share their manager with Celtic next year.

Speaking in New York, where he will manage the 2012 All Stars against their 2011 counterparts in an exhibition game in Gaelic Park tomorrow night, McGuinness said he hopes to learn from working closely with Celtic.

He said that leaving Donegal to take up a full-time position with Celtic was never on the agenda, not least because despite winning the All-Ireland title for the first time in 20 years, there's still unfinished business in the county.

“We have created something within our own group of players that I feel is special. They have put everything in their lives into the side in terms of day-to-day stuff and put football at the centre. It would be hard to walk away from that,” he said.

“I would feel that we're 60-65 per cent of what we can be. These boys are still learning.

“Even the All-Ireland final was a huge learning experience for them. They deviated from what we were talking about beforehand.

“Was that the pressure of the All-Ireland final? Was it the crowd? Was it the atmosphere? I don't know, but I do know that we were lucky enough to win the game and still get that experience which will hopefully stand to us if we get into that situation again.

“They're young and they're learning. Even Michael (Murphy), the captain of the team, is only 23-years-old and learning and growing all the time. There are eight or nine players like that.

“For us, a huge focus will be on Tyrone in the first round of the Championship.

“If we don't win that game, it is a long, long road to the second competition.

“It's just about that game for us. That's the way it was this year for Cavan in the first round. It will be no different next year.”

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