Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness lets rip over book's 'untruths' and 'vile articles'

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, Croke Park, Dublin 23/9/2012
All Ireland Final - Donegal v Mayo Fans Pictures - 23rd September 2012Round - Copyright Presseye.comMandatory Credit Declan Roughan / Presseye(L-R) Sarah Mc Donald, from Armagh and Naimh Brittan from Ballybofey.Donegall Fans watch the match at the Botanic Inn Belfast- (Chris VoxPop)
Mark McHugh fulfils a vital role at |the heart of Donegal’s tactical blueprint

Jim McGuinness had just completed perhaps the great coaching journey of the modern era in Gaelic football an hour earlier, but when he walked into the post-match press conference it quickly became obvious that he had something on his mind.

The positivity that had radiated from him all season was absent as he fixed his stare on a stopwatch strapped to his arm, clearly gathering his thoughts. He rose from his chair and returned briefly to the ante room that links the TV interview area and the dressing-room corridor.

A representative from the Croke Park press office then re-entered to deliver a request from McGuinness to Declan Bogue, the Ulster-based journalist who had collaborated with Kevin Cassidy for the controversial book 'This Is Our Year' that led to Cassidy's removal from the squad last November, to leave the room. Only if his request was acceded to, it emerged, would he return to conduct any print media interviews.

When McGuinness re-entered the auditorium he gave the background to the request and why, after 10 months, he was now addressing the vexed issue of Cassidy's contribution and seeking the author's removal. Bogue had been to all of Donegal's post-match press conferences this summer without any disapproval from McGuinness and had even been to the Donegal media night in advance of the final three weeks earlier.

But now McGuinness, with the journey complete, was delivering what he felt was the necessary riposte in their time of glory.

"There were a lot of untruths in the book. There was a lot of things said about me. I've never broken court on it since the whole thing happened. I've held my dignity. I've let myself be castigated. And I did that because I gave somebody an agreement that I wouldn't break my court on it.

"There were a lot of things said in the book that were incorrect and untrue, some of it about me personally and about some of my players. The person who wrote that book had no researcher on the book to qualify what was said. The other people in the media that wrote fairly vile articles had no researcher to qualify the comments. It was an all-out attack for a couple of months on my character. I know what I've done, I know what I've coached, I know what I am as a person.

"So I'm not going to let somebody sit in a room and fill their pages tomorrow on the back of what we've done today when they in their wisdom degraded me as a person and some of my players," said McGuinness. "I'm not a two-faced person, I'm not going to be two-faced here and let somebody have their jam on both sides. It was a very hard period in my life, for my family and everybody else and I still held my dignity."

Pressed as to why he hadn't responded at the time of the book's launch, McGuinness said there was little comeback for him. "If I challenged it at the time, it makes the story bigger and the people who've read it in the first place have made up their minds about it anyway. So why would I go over old ground, creating a bigger story, making it bigger and bigger and bigger and the people who have read it in the first place will have their own view? I'm not going to answer any more about it.

"And there's another person who if he was here would be out of the room as well. It was absolutely vile what he wrote, all on falsehoods. Absolutely vile that you could get away with that and degrade somebody to that level and feel then that you can write another article to rectify the wrong.

"It's wrong that people should act in haste and repent at leisure. It's not hard to get a researcher on a book. That's the end of it. I'm leaving if there's another question."

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