Friday 13 December 2019

Shay Given eager to help Donegal in training link-up

Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given

Chris McNulty

Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given is expected to link up with the Donegal senior football team before the end of this week.

Given was reported yesterday to have been set to attend last night's training session in Convoy, but the 38-year-old Lifford man was not present. Given is on holiday in his native Donegal and is likely to be in attendance tomorrow night, when Jim McGuinness' side get together.

The 125-times capped goalkeeper, promoted to assistant manager to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa before the end of the Premier League season, has an active interest in Gaelic football and was at Celtic Park on Sunday to cheer on Donegal in their Ulster SFC win over Derry.

"It's really just a case of mingling with the players, having a chat and seeing if there is anything I can help with," Given said of his planned meet-up with the Donegal squad.

"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."

Given is good friends with Pat Shovelin, the Donegal goalkeeping coach. Shovelin has visited Given at Villa to observe their goalkeepers in training, and in the moments after Donegal's All-Ireland win in 2012, Given spoke to McGuinness following a phonecall to Shovelin.

McGuinness himself has been combining codes since being appointed as a performance consultant at Celtic in 2012, following Donegal's capturing of Sam Maguire. The paths of McGuinness and Given crossed last February when they attended Celtic's Champions League clash with Juventus at Celtic Park.

Given played underage Gaelic football with his native Naomh Padraig. In 1987, the club won its first ever championship at any grade when, with the 11-year-old Given in goal, they beat Urris 0-6 to 0-3 in an U-14 B final replay.

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"In goalkeeper Shay Given, they have a real talent," a report from the game read. "He saved his side on many occasions."

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