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Given inspired by Donegal's magic motivator McGuinness

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Jim McGuinness with Shay Given who took part in a training session with the Donegal squad. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Jim McGuinness with Shay Given who took part in a training session with the Donegal squad. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Jim McGuinness with Shay Given who took part in a training session with the Donegal squad. Photo: Donna El Assaad

Jim McGuinness had Shay Given ready to tear opponents limb from limb for the Donegal cause - and that was only in a training session.

Donegal-born Given didn't see his county's famous victory over Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday due to Aston Villa's Premier League game with Hull, but he was kept up to date with events by friends and family.

And when the final whistle blew, the Republic of Ireland international was as pleased as if he had been on the Donegal team himself.

Apart from being a native of the county, Given had a quiet fancy for Donegal against the All-Ireland champions because he had seen up close and personal, the dynamic influence of McGuinness and the commitment within the squad.

In fact, even in a pre-training huddle during a session with Donegal, Given found himself powered up for action.

"I had the great privilege of training with Donegal in the summer, seeing the tempo and how they train and how they work.

"I was in a huddle with them and just to see the way Jim was getting them pepped up for training - I was wanting to start to swing for people he had them pepped up that much for training.

"So you can only imagine what it was like in the changing room before the Dublin game and at half time.

"The commitment to the cause up there is phenomenal, so it didn't surprise me, but I'm just delighted that they pulled it off," said Given.

The Irish soccer goalkeeper is good friends with McGuinness and the Donegal goalkeeping coach, Pat Shovlin, hence the opportunity to train with the Tir Chonaill squad.

"What Jim's done up there is unbelievable. He's obviously a sports psychologist, a great manager, a fantastic guy as well, and we're lucky that Donegal have him."

Now they've won the semi-final, Given looks forward to seeing Donegal take on mighty Kerry in the final on September 21. His verdict?

"Of course they can win the All Ireland. I just hope they don't get too carried away with it now, because obviously Dublin were 10/1 on, and no one gave Donegal a prayer.

"I was travelling back when the second half was on, but I was getting updates with different people texting me the latest news.

"It was great for the county and, as I said, hopefully they don't get carried away because that was near enough a cup final for them," he said.

Given had attended Donegal's victory over Derry in the Ulster Championship last May, and the week after that, McGuinness invited him to train with the squad in Convoy, where the county's GAA Training centre is situated.

The Aston Villa player took a full part in the training, and later was delighted to avail of the opportunity to address the gaelic footballers. McGuinness later spoke to the Donegal News and said: "With Shay, it was great for the players to hear what he had to say.

"Shay has done a lot at the very top level, playing at the World Cup, the European Championships, and FA Cup final. Those life experiences are something he can draw from and can impart to our players."

Irish Independent