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Tale of the tape: McGeeney v McGuinness

Two of the GAA’s brightest young managers square up at Croke Park tomorrow as Kildare face Donegal.

Kieran McGeeney, left, and Jim McGuinness.
Kieran McGeeney, left, and Jim McGuinness.
Image: Inpho

THE DAYS IN which the typical GAA manager was an old, wise, former great, appears to be a thing of the past.

The image of the modern football manager today is a young, passionate former inter-county player with recent championship-playing experience, a man that would look just as comfortable training with his side than giving the orders on the sideline.

This can be seen across the country with the recent appointments of Down’s James McCarten, Mayo’s James Horan, Pat Gilroy of Dublin and of course Jim McGuinness of Donegal and Kildare’s appointment of Kieran McGeeney.

McGuinness and McGeeney will lock horns in the All-Ireland quarter-final this weekend with each young Ulster manager eager to prove their worth. How do they stack up?

Jim McGuinness

Age: 39

In charge of: Donegal

Experience: As a player McGuinness enjoyed moderate success for Dún na nGall, and although he featured primarily as a substitute in the historic 1992 campaign he still claimed an All-Ireland SFC medal at the age of just 19.  A university graduate of ‘Sports Science’ coupled with the impressive feat of guiding the U21 side to an All-Ireland final in 2010, he was appointed senior manager in July of last year.

McGuinness’s first full season in charge was deemed a triumph as he secured promotion to Division 1. The Ulsterman is widely credited for taking a struggling Donegal side and transforming them into Ulster champions for the first time since he was on the panel 19 years ago.

Kieran McGeeney

Age: 39

In charge of: Kildare

Experience: McGeeney enjoyed a very successful playing career claiming six Ulster SFC medals and three All-Stars with Armagh.

The highlight of this glittering career was lifting the Sam Maguire as captain for the Orchard County’s first and only title in 2002.

That same year McGeeney was named Texaco footballer of the year. In 2006, he captained the Irish team in the International Rules Series against Australia. Retiring from inter-county football in 2007; ‘Geezer’ finished his club career with Na Fianna in Dublin.

McGeeney took over at Kildare in 2007 aged only 35 and has so far enjoyed championship success with the Lilywhites, guiding the county to successive quarter-finals in 2008 and 2009.

Last year he helped Kildare reach the semi-final stage for the first time in a decade and was unlucky not to make the final, narrowly losing to the surprise side of the tournament, Down.

Match-up

The sides met once already this year in the Allianz Football League Division 2 match in February which ended 0-08 1-05, with Kildare scoring 1-01 in the final minutes to secure a draw in Letterkenny.

Despite losing in controversial circumstances to Dublin in the Leinster semi-final the Lilywhites will enter the tie tomorrow as favourites, having impressed with convincing victories in their qualifying run over Laois, Meath and Derry.  However there is huge momentum too behind the Ulster side, who remain unbeaten in this season’s championship.  Donegal may be the more rested of the two competitors, as Kildare and McGeeney have lamented the gruelling qualifiers and this will be their fourth match in only three weeks.

Who do you fancy in tomorrow’s Croke Park showdown?

Down memory lane: A potted history of Cork v Mayo>

Read all TheScore’s GAA coverage here>

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About the author:

Feargal Rooney

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