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New Bhoy Jim McGuinness on what he does at Celtic

The Donegal manager says his new role on Neil Lennon’s staff is helping his GAA ambitions.

Image: INPHO/James Crombie

WHATEVER HAPPENS WITH Donegal in the championship this summer, Jim McGuinness won’t be giving up the day job.

The All-Ireland winning boss clocks in at Celtic Park these days in a new role with the SPL champions’ up-and-coming stars.

And speaking to reporters at Croke Park yesterday, McGuinness insists his two roles are dovetailing nicely so far.

“I’m involved in a project in terms of development,” he says of the position on Neil Lennon’s staff. “There’s a development plan in place there. Celtic are now bringing players in and they’re trying to develop them. They’re trying to get as much money for them as possible and they’re trying to sell them on. They’re a selling club at the moment and they’ve been very successful at the moment.

“They’ve been very successful in identifying very talented players. These players are very talented but they’re going through the stages of development as they’re very young. If you can add anything to them players and the ones coming through the academy, it leaves the club in a very sustainable place and that’s where the job is linked in really.”

McGuinness famously helped end Donegal’s two-decade wait for the Sam Maguire last September and he insists there isn’t much difference between that young panel of Gaelic footballers and the players hoping to grace the Champions League.

“No, they’re all very driven. Our lads in Donegal are very, very driven. They want to win,” he says.

“They don’t think it’s a God-given right to win. They know they have to work very hard to win. If we want to win the game on Sunday, we have to work extremely hard and perform if we are to win. That’s a mentality and a mindset that the players have now. The boys in Glasgow are exactly the same. They’re desperate to make it. These lads, it’s their job.

“You’ve got a situation where an injury can be very devastating, even just a ligament injury, that has you out for 6-8 weeks. That could be 6-8 weeks of this two-year window where they’re trying to make it. The stakes are very high and they’re desperate to make it. Managing that is important as well. The development squad last year, Dylan McGeouch and Tony Watt came up and got the contracts, and Tony scored the goal against Barcelona. All of their peers are watching that. It’s a tough environment. It’s working through that and keeping them positive and strong whenever they have an injury or their form is not good.”

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Manager Jim McGuinness with his family, wife Yvonne, and kids Toni-Marie, Michael Anthony and Jim Jr in the Sam Maguire Cup. Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

McGuinness — who has a young family at home — insists that splitting his time between Donegal and Glasgow hasn’t proved particularly taxing so far.

“I’m very fortunate there’s an airport in our own county,” he says. “Even today I flew up. They know me in the airport which is a big help which means If the flight is at 10:50, I can leave the house at 9:50 be down there for 10:30 and walk on the flight so it’s about 2 hours 15 minutes from door to door where it takes me an hour to Letterkenny and it’s the same amount of time to get to Belfast just to get the flight so that makes commuting a lot easier. It’s only 15 minutes to my apartment on the far side and 25 minutes to Lennoxtown if I’m going straight to work so it’s very handy.

“I probably have more [time to myself] because I have the couple of nights over where I am on my own. I’m over there on my own and once I get my work finished up I can read a book or do a bit of work on Donegal. I have three kids at home so you wouldn’t get that sort of head space with them.

“It has freed up time for me in many respects. Even when you’re travelling you are just sitting on a plane reading or whatever. It has been very good. Then you have the benefit of being in a professional environment and seeing the inner workings of it.”

Donegal will now focus on annexing another Ulster title before gunning for a second All-Ireland and Celtic will regroup after the off-season, planning for more magical European nights, like last year.

“I was at it,” says McGuinness when asked about the defeat of Barcelona at Celtic Park. “It was absolutely sensational really on many levels. The atmosphere itself and the goals and result and everything, was just a unique experience.”

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