SHAY GIVEN will attend Donegal’s football training session in Ballybofey tonight, but only as a guest of Donegal boss Jim McGuinness as the Aston Villa keeper has not turned his back on soccer.
Given, 38, is currently on holiday in his native Donegal and showed his interest in his county’s affairs by attending the Derry-Donegal Ulster SFC duel at Celtic Park last Sunday afternoon, even though that meant missing Ireland’s friendly against Turkey in Dublin.
“I have spoken to Jim McGuinness a few times and he wanted me to go up training this week, so I think I will go tonight,” Given told
“I not really to do any coaching or hard work with the Donegal keepers, it’s really just a case of mingling with the players, having a chat and seeing if there is anything I can help with.
“They’re training tonight in MacCumhaill Park and Jim has asked me to go, so hopefully it will happen.
“I am quite good friends with Pat Shovelin, the goalkeeping coach, so I have an idea of what’s going on in the Donegal squad,” added Given, a big admirer of McGuinness, who led his county to All-Ireland glory in 2012, their first time to do so since their historic first success of 1992.
“What Jim has done with Donegal is only phenomenal and it was great to be there at the Derry game on Sunday,” said Given.
“Jim gave the players a great team talk as they came out for the second half all fired up and won the game well, a great start to the Championship.
“Jim has had some stick from certain quarters, especially in parts of the media, but what he has done for Gaelic in Donegal is exceptional,” stressed Given.
“The fitness levels, the commitment, the way the players look after themselves off the pitch, the way they can play different systems, so much of that is down to Jim and coaches across the country are looking up to him,” added Given.
Fellow members of the goalkeepers union’ have found time to make the cross-over from soccer into the GAA world.
Former Bohemians man Brian Murphy, part of the QPR squad which has just won promotion to the Premier League, has done coaching work with Kildare’s senior team in the recent past while Gary Rogers, an ever-present in the League of Ireland with Sligo Rovers this season, was part of the coaching staff at Cavan, coaching their keepers.
Former Ireland U21 cap Shane Supple has also moved into the Gaelic football realm - lining out with the Dubs last season and starring for his club, St Brigid’s in Dublin 15.
Former League of Ireland netminder, Gary Matthews, who enjoyed stints with Athlone Town, Kilkenny City and St Francis was goalkeeping coach to Dublin’s Stephen Cluxton and currently aids the young development squad keepers in the capital.
Given has no plans to do the same on a regular basis but he is keen to spend time with McGuinness.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a case of me having things to impart to Jim and his coaching staff, it’s more a case of me learning from Jim.
“He knows his sport, he knows the psychology of sport.
“I am doing my coaching badges and I feel I could only learn from someone like Jim McGuinness, we could bounce off each other,” added Given.