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All-Ireland winning coach Jim McGuinness open to future role in soccer


Jim McGuinness, with a Donegal jersey at Celtic Park last year, would like to take on the challenge of soccer management at some stage

Jim McGuinness, with a Donegal jersey at Celtic Park last year, would like to take on the challenge of soccer management at some stage


Jim McGuinness, with a Donegal jersey at Celtic Park last year, would like to take on the challenge of soccer management at some stage

Jim McGuinness admits he is keeping an open mind about a future in soccer coaching as he looks ahead to commencing his Uefa 'B' badges in two weeks' time.

McGuinness, unveiled yesterday as the latest addition to the Sky Sports GAA team, has already completed the first phase of coaching in the sport that he is now pursuing in a full-time career with Celtic.

And he revealed that he will be taking a couple of sessions next season at the club where he is working extensively with the first team, crowned Scottish Premiership champions last weekend.


Only last week the Donegal defender Karl Lacey, one of the linchpins of McGuinness' All-Ireland champions, predicted his old boss had the capacity to succeed as a soccer coach in the future.

And speaking by video link from Glasgow to the Sky Sports studios in west London where their coverage of the 2015 Championships was launched, he didn't attempt to dampen that ambition to go further in that sphere.

"I'm going into it with an open mind," he said. "What I want to do at the moment is use the badges to make myself better in my own job (as a performance coach). I do a lot of one-to-ones with players every single day and you do get into very in-depth conversations with them in terms of where they're at and where they want to go, the position they play on in the team. And there's a lot of tactical stuff as well, it's just not conversations," he added.

"I think that will help me in my job. Obviously I've been a coach and I've really enjoyed coaching and I'd like to challenge myself in that area to see what I can do and what I can offer and how much I would enjoy that dynamic."

He revealed he has already taken an active part in coaching sessions at the club since stepping up his role over the last season.

"The coaches with Celtic have been very good. They've given me a couple of hours here and there in terms of defensive structures, what they do and what they like to do.

"The manager (Ronny Deila) said he is going to give me a couple of sessions as well, maybe this season coming in, so I'm looking forward to that and being around that type of person who will sort of educate you and develop you.

"Then it's up to yourself to bring those concepts forward. It has been very enjoyable and it's something that I really enjoy doing anyway. We'll see where it takes us now."

Despite that ambition McGuinness has not ruled out a return to inter-county management at some stage in the future.


"I would never rule it out. I have two sons, aged five and four, and there's probably a higher percentage chance of being involved with the Glenties U-8s or U-10s than there is with Donegal in the short-term.

"Obviously I love my county and I'm very proud of what I've achieved," he said.

"I know the boys aren't finished yet but the period I had with them for four years with the seniors and the one year with the 21s were probably the best years of my life in terms of experience and developing and growing as a person and the people you were working with. I would never close a book on it, absolutely not."

McGuinness, who admitted that he was attracted to Sky Sports' brand of analysis, has dismissed talk of Gaelic football being in trouble as a spectacle.

"There's always a lot of winter talk and we've been privy to a lot of that ourselves in Donegal," he said. "I think football is in a very strong place. I think there's a lot of work going on in every single county. What has happened in the last number of years is counties that maybe traditionally weren't at the top table are fighting very, very hard to get to the top table. I think that's a good thing.

"I don't see it as the death of football. I think there's definitely been changes and people have been asking questions, the established norms have been questioned and I think that's a really healthy thing. A lot of debate is a really healthy thing.

"There's been a lot of very strong opinions but just because somebody's got a very strong opinion or they're a high-profile pundit that doesn't mean they're right. Everybody is entitled to their opinion and I think that's really important."

McGuinness believes Tyrone will have to bring "something different" to Ballybofey on Sunday week to have a chance of claiming a first Ulster Championship win in four attempts over the home side.

"Donegal are a very mature team and have been through a lot together as a group. Maybe there are a few issues at the moment with injuries. Paddy McGrath has been struggling a bit with hamstrings and Martin McElhinney has missed a couple of weeks' training," he revealed.

"But I think the squad is very strong and I think the experience of losing the All-Ireland last year could be a very powerful one going into this season. In terms of Tyrone, it's going to be interesting to see what they bring. I think they do have to bring something different."

He doesn't see the All-Ireland champions coming from outside the group of four that have dominated the game for the previous four years.

He also sees strong similarities between Donegal now and the years that he was at the helm.

"They look focused. I was at the Tyrone game in the league it was a very commanding performance and dominating performance," he observed.

The scoreline (10-point win) didn't flatter them, but at the same time Tyrone will be coming with designs on winning this one, a new game plan probably. They got a shot in the arm with their U-21s winning an All-Ireland.

"Over the last couple of years Donegal probably have had the upper hand in terms of physicality and strength but Tyrone seem to have gone back to basics to an extent."

Irish Independent