Belfast Telegraph

Declan Bogue: How Donegal boss McGuinness and Celtic can be a match made in heaven

They say it's a two or three day a week arrangement, but if Celtic and Jim McGuinness can work in harmony, it seems inevitable that his role in Donegal could be entirely wrapped up by next September, come what may.

We are now in the vapour trails of one of the most astonishing moves in Gaelic games, and it remains enthralling in both prospect and in anticipation; how somebody who has risen in prominence from his involvement in the GAA can secure employment in the professional realm.

One point to note here. There is a feeling that this sort of cross-fertilisation of ideas could mean a lot more of this sort of thing. It won't.

McGuinness has his professional qualifications from studies in Tralee IT, Jordanstown and John Moores University in Liverpool. He has put his studies to good use, but he also caught a lucky break when he met Celtic's majority shareholder Dermot Desmond at the Irish Open golf event at Portrush.

The two men hit it off so well that it has led to the present scenario.

If one were to read between the lines of Neil Lennon's quotes, it seems a logical step that McGuinness should gain his coaching qualifications in order to get involved on the grass, as well as in the class

room. If his role is to work on the mental side of the youth players, then his role should be a holistic one.

Being out there on the pitch with players, practising set routines is an obvious strength of the Donegal man, given how the current All-Ireland champions played to a system that trumped anything before in Gaelic football in terms of specific roles, communication and working to a template.

Lennon commented that McGuinness might not be a dyed in the wool soccer man, but he knows sport. In shaping this Donegal side, he started with the defence and worked out from there.

In Joe Brolly's colourful terms, he took Gaelic football to its ‘logical conclusion.'

Watching Celtic's magnificent triumph of spirit over the artisans of Barcelona, there was plenty to admire.

The levels of concentration it took not to lunge into needless fouls, the energy that expends, the entire performance can be held up as the perfect case study for a sports psychologist.

Nobody deviated from the plan, nobody suffered from what legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Pat Riley terms, “The disease of me”.

In these days of Carlos Tevez and a hundred other examples, it is tempting to group all soccer players under the mercenary bracket.

But what Celtic produced last week was borne of passion and a mental resilience.

Adding Jim McGuinness to their staff is another step in the right direction.

They are made for one another.

Belfast Telegraph


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