independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Martin Breheny: GAA should feel proud that outside world is looking to them for expertise

One of their own has been recognised for talents that are valuable in any sport -- amateur or professional

WHEN a major professional outfit feels it has something to learn from a man who has operated all his life in an amateur environment, it's a huge tribute both to the individual involved and to the environment in which he learned his trade.

So, as the value of the Jim McGuinness brand increases once again -- this time in the quantifiable format of a lucrative contract with Celtic -- the rest of the GAA world can rejoice too.

One of their own has been recognised for possessing talents that are valuable in any sport, whether amateur or professional.

Given the high standards of preparation that have applied in Gaelic Games for quite a long time, that shouldn't come as a surprise, but, nonetheless, it's good to see confirmation of its recognition in such a high-profile development.

Over recent seasons, an increasing number of trainers/ conditioning coaches and assorted others from the rugby world have been recruited to help out with the preparation of GAA teams.

It's being done with the best of intentions and in the belief that those involved with rugby have been exposed to international trends which could easily be developed in Gaelic games.

Nothing wrong there, provided, of course, that no attempt was made to interfere with the core philosophies of football and hurling.

However, the sight of tackle bags at pre-match warm-up sessions for hurling games is not encouraging, suggesting that the right balance isn't always struck.

Sports can always learn from each other, but, inevitably, there's a tendency to believe that the professional game is always more advanced than its amateur counterpart.

That's what makes McGuinness' appointment by Celtic so interesting.

They clearly believe that he has the expertise to bring something to what is an already highly sophisticated operation.

That's quite a vote of confidence in McGuinness and, indeed, in the game where he has worked for so long.

McGuinness' progress will be watched with keen interest right across the GAA.

It will also lead to speculation as to how many other GAA managers/ coaches would slot easily into professional sports.

After all, expertise -- however acquired -- is an international currency.

Now that McGuinness will have full access to the wide range of sports science deployed by Celtic, Donegal stand to gain substantially from the new insight.

In that sense, it's a very exciting development for Donegal, but, at the same time, there will be a feeling that this could be the start of a process which sees McGuinness join Celtic full-time.

He has committed himself to leading the attempt to retain the All- Ireland title next year and, will no doubt, take on the task with the same sense of obsession and attention to detail which were so crucially important to transforming Donegal from also-rans to winners over just two seasons.

However, he faces quite a challenge not just in managing his time between Celtic and Donegal commitments, but also in plotting the All-Ireland two-in-a-row bid.

He will do so from a unique position as a key member of a major soccer club.

It's quite a change from the days when the Donegal County Board showed a marked absence of enthusiasm for his application to become senior county manager.

Celtic's approach shows just how highly McGuinness is now rated.

He deserves his break and, in its own way, the GAA should feel proud too that the outside world is looking to them for expertise, rather than the other way around.



Reaction in Tweets

Kevin Cassidy @KCASS7

Welcome Jim to the best club and fans in the world although it's a bad day for Donegal GAA it's an opportunity 2 big to turn down #hailhail

Paul Galvin @pgal10

Jimmy McGuinness. Manager. Leader. Legend

Neil McGee @Niallmacaoidh

Jimmy only movin t Celtic t try persuade wanyama t come play midfield alongside @neilgerardgalla

Conor Mortimer @Conmort

That's going be a tough role for jimmy . So much commitment involved in gaa playing and managing

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