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Former Donegal GAA boss Jim McGuinness is drafted in by Saracens

By Andrew Baldock

Published 16/04/2015

Former Donegal Gaelic football team manager Jim McGuinness
Former Donegal Gaelic football team manager Jim McGuinness

Saracens have tapped into the motivational powers of Gaelic football guru Jim McGuinness during their preparations for Saturday's European Champions Cup semi-final showdown against Clermont Auvergne.

McGuinness this week became the latest in a long line of sporting figures to address Saracens' first-team squad.

In the past, they have called upon the likes of American athlete Michael Johnson, former motor racing world champion Jackie Stewart and ex-England cricket captain Andrew Strauss, in addition to polar explorers and army generals.

McGuinness, 42, transformed Donegal into an All-Ireland champion team during his time in charge. He guided them to three Ulster senior titles in four seasons, culminating with 2012 All-Ireland silverware being secured for only a second time in more than 120 years.

McGuinness, a sports psychologist, also worked with Europe captain Paul McGinley during the Ryder Cup victory over the United States at Gleneagles last year, and he is part of Celtic's set-up under manager Ronny Deila.

"We bring speakers in on a regular basis," Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

"Jim McGuinness was the Donegal football manager for four seasons. He's currently the sports psychologist at Celtic and he was Paul McGinley's right-hand man at the Ryder Cup in 2014.

"When he took over at Donegal in 2010, they hadn't won a game for three seasons and hadn't won a championship for 19 seasons.

"He took them on a journey over four years and it seemed like a very similar journey to our own.

"He captivated the group for an hour. He is a passionate speaker and he was fantastic for the players, who really enjoyed it.

"I am not from Donegal, but I studied the story from afar and admired what he did. He had a very interesting story."

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