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Dublin: 7°C Monday 21 September 2020

Soccer move an 'easy' one for Celtic fan McGuinness

The Donegal boss also explained the similarity between the Scottish team and GAA sides.

McGuinness started working at Celtic last week.
McGuinness started working at Celtic last week.

JIM MCGUINNESS has said his decision to move to Celtic was ultimately an “easy” one, owing to his lifelong devotion to the club.

Speaking on the Saturday Night Show, the Donegal boss said that the connection between Celtic and Ireland also drew him to the club.

“Most people in Ireland support Celtic plus a Premier League team and it’s always been the club for the people of Ireland,” he said. “There was always a strong connection between Donegal and Celtic, so it was very easy on that level.”

Celtic fan McGuinness began working for the club last week, and he says he is already impressed with the “very strong” facilities, adding:

“Celtic is very like Gaelic Football clubs because it’s community based. When you go there, you’re made feel very welcome and it’s been that way all week.”

He also elaborated on what his new role would entail.

“Like the Donegal project, it’s about trying to tick as many boxes as possible,” he explained. “The players I’ll be working with are developing players. They’re not the finished article yet so it’s mostly on the psychology side of things, but there’s other areas in their life and you’re trying to guide them in the right direction.

“The overall package is something everybody has an impact on, that’s what you’re trying to do, you’re trying the get the best [end] product, and if they’re not in the first team, there’s a reason for that, so you’re trying to put them in that area.”

With regard to his other high-profile job, McGuinness spoke at length about his insistence that there should be as little negativity as possible in the Donegal dressing room.

“I felt that if we wanted to move forward, if we wanted to get the most out of the players, you shouldn’t have a negative environment for the players to be operating in. Everyone I picked for the backroom team are all very positive people. I’ve been in dressing rooms where a selector would say ‘jeez, we’re very flat’ and you know you’re flat because he just said it.

“There are young people who don’t believe in themselves. The hardest [obstacle] is making the commitment,” he added.

He recalled how an early meeting with the Donegal players was integral to their development as a team and subsequent success.

“We were rated 19th in the country in an article in Irish Life. I asked the players why. There was a lot of honesty in the room and it was a great starting point. The second task was how do we get to number one.

“Once we had everything down on paper, we set out our goals. I don’t normally get nervous, but I was, as I wanted to have a positive reaction. There was a commitment made – I knew there was going to be focus from them. I think you have to have belief and confidence in what you’re doing. The players, every time they walk in the door, want to be the best they can be.”

In relation to Donegal’s recent All-Ireland win, he said it was especially satisfying because “a lot of people had written off the boys and were questioning the lads’ character”.

And despite the side’s recent success, he insisted that his team won’t be taking anything for granted in the upcoming season.

“We respect every team we play. We prepare ourselves for each game. The All-Ireland’s not even on the radar. For us, what’s on the radar is Tyrone.”

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Paul Fennessy

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