Video: Shay Given hails Donegal effort after returning for 'tough' session
Shay Given trained with Donegal last night – and got a shock to the system.
The former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper took part in the session in Convoy after accepting an invite from Jim McGuinness. What was planned as a light workout took Given by surprise. Having taken part in drills with goalkeepers Paul Durcan and Michael Boyle he finished the session by playing in a small-sided games.
"It was tough – I don't think I saved too many," Given said. "I'm very rusty because I was about 15 the last time I played Gaelic football. The training is fantastic and it's great to be a part of it.
"The dedication and work rate is phenomenal. You would go far to see a fitter team in the Premier League. It's hard to believe they're amateur with the professionalism of the players and the staff."
Given is on holidays in his native Lifford and was at Celtic Park last Sunday to watch Donegal defeat Derry in the Ulster Championship.
He believes that Donegal could have a long summer.
He said: "They battered Derry in the second half. If they do that all year they could go all the way. It won't be easy, but they've set the bar high now."
Last February, McGuinness watched Celtic's Champions League game against Juventus in the company of Given, who is impressed by the Donegal boss.
He said: "Jim is a great manager and motivator. We're lucky to have him in Donegal."
Meanwhile, Croke Park officials have clarified that a sideline ball has the same status as a free, with all the residual implications that has for players fouling off-the-ball while it is being taken. Referees sought clarification on the matter after top whistler David Coldrick gave a free in-field for an off-the-ball foul on Sean Cavanagh before Tyrone had taken a line-ball in the dying minutes of their drawn Ulster SFC with Down.
Many people, including some referees, felt that frees could not be awarded in that situation because the ball was technically out of play until the side-line ball was taken.
However, when the championship panel of referees was called on to clarify some recent decisions, they were told that Coldrick was technically correct and that they should treat a side-line ball similarly in the future. "The wording of Rule 2.9 specifies that a free-kick from the hand is awarded for a ball played over the sideline," the GAA's national match officials manager Pat Doherty told the Irish Independent.
"A player is never given impunity to hold or foul their man while a free is being taken in-field.
"In the case of sideline balls, it would be completely illogical to ignore such fouls, so the same rule applies and that is what referees have been told to apply."