Thursday 8 December 2016

‘I don’t think there’s a need to react to that’ – Jim McGuinness riled during tense Second Captain’s TV interview

Published 12/11/2015 | 06:47

In happier times – Rory Gallagher celebrates with Jim McGuiness after Donegal’s Ulster SFC final victory in 2011
In happier times – Rory Gallagher celebrates with Jim McGuiness after Donegal’s Ulster SFC final victory in 2011

Donegal’s All-Ireland winning manager Jim McGuinness cut an unhappy figure during stages of his interview on Second Captain’s last night as he discussed his fall-outs with Kevin Cassidy and Rory Gallagher.

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The current Celtic performance coach was the main guest on the show’s season finale on RTE 2 last night and was speaking on a number of issues in his recently released autobiography, Until Victory Always.

The book focuses primarily on his four years in charge of Donegal where he led the team from no-hopers in the race for Sam Maguire to All-Ireland winners in 2012.

The style of football became a huge talking point as the Ulster side transformed the way Gaelic Football was played, while highly publicised fall-outs with All Star defender Kevin Cassidy and more recently with current Donegal manager Rory Gallagher have added intrigue to the book.

Donegal manager Jim McGuinness
Donegal manager Jim McGuinness

Cassidy was axed from the squad after the 2011 campaign after providing details of the team set-up to journalist Declan Bogue while Gallagher, his assistant during the victorious 2012 campaign, was deemed surplus to requirements for the 2014 season. McGuinness reveals in the book he hasn’t spoken to Gallagher since informing him by phone he was no longer part of the backroom team.

Speaking to presenters Eoin McDevitt and Ciaran Murphy on the show last night, he explained Cassidy had to go as the “group was compromised”, but refused to respond to Gallagher’s recent public disappointment in McGuinness’ version of events in the book regarding his departure.

Jim McGuinness’ account of Donegal’s victory over Dublin doesn’t factor in some of the Dubs’ sloppy finishing on the day which proved very costly
Jim McGuinness’ account of Donegal’s victory over Dublin doesn’t factor in some of the Dubs’ sloppy finishing on the day which proved very costly

“I don't think that there's a need to react to that,” he told viewers. “I've said in the book what I wanted to say in the book and that's my perspective of what happened.”

Asked whether accusations of double standards could be levelled at the him considering Cassidy was punished for revealing insights in a book, McGuinness explained the difference in the respective situations.

“In the same context as Alex Ferguson writing a book after he stepped away, it's after the event. The situation with Kevin was, everything we were doing in that moment, we were trying to win the All-Ireland, we were putting our lives on hold.

“And everything we were doing was laid bare for every single manager in Ulster and the country. Every single method that I was bringing to what we were trying to achieve was laid bare in that moment.

“I'm gone now and there's another man managing Donegal. That's why Alex Ferguson has written his book now, because he's gone from the Man United job. It's the exact same context with me. That's what people do. They explain what happened in a job after the event, not during the event.”

Undeterred, McDevitt read a particular passage from the book – where McGuinness writes that Gallagher told him following a game against Mayo in Croke Park that some of the senior players “had had their day” – and questioned whether this now put Gallagher in a difficult position with those players in the changing room.

A clearly uncomfortable McGuinness said he had to be honest in his story.

“That’s what happened,” he insisted. “It’s in the book. That’s what happened, that’s what the book’s about. If I didn’t put in the book what happened people would be saying I fudged things. If I didn’t talk about Kevin Cassidy in the book, you know.”

The Celtic employee lamented the fact that the broken down relationships have become the major talking points of his memoir.

“There’s 320 pages in the book, but we’re talking about Kevin Cassidy and Rory Gallagher now. I’ve done a lot of interviews in the last few weeks and that’s been the tone. Whereas the book is about much, much more than that.

“How much time have we spent on it tonight? This is what sells. People love conflict and tomorrow morning we’ll wake up we’ll see something in the paper about it and they’ll be looking for Rory to comment about it.

“Rory’s in the job now and I wish him well.”

After the questioning moved towards Glasgow Celtic and his role with the Scottish giants, McGuinness’s defiant mood was lifted when he joked: “Is the grilling over?”

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