McGuinness in Celtic talks

Jim McGuinness’s future as Donegal manager hung in the balance last night after a meeting with Celtic officials in Glasgow yesterday.

McGuinness in Celtic talks

He was a guest of the Scottish Premier League club for their dramatic 2-1 win over Barcelona on Wednesday night in the Champions League and has been earmarked for a position at the club as performance coach.

The role is said to entail McGuinness utilising his background in sports psychology to work in the Celtic academy with the club’s under-age players.

It is believed the position would be a part-time one, which would leave a possibility for McGuinness, who is halfway through a four-year term, to continue to manage Donegal.

He met with county board figures on Tuesday night and the matter was discussed.

Aodh Mairtin Ó Fearraigh, the Donegal County Board secretary, last night said: “As far as we’re concerned, Jim McGuinness is still the manager of the Donegal senior team.”

Thirty-nine-year-old McGuinness holds an MSc in Sport Psychology from John Moore’s University, Liverpool; an Honours Degree in Sport, Exercise and Leisure from UUJ, and a Higher Cert in Health and Leisure Studies from Tralee IT.

McGuinness, who admits to always being a Celtic supporter, was previously invited to Celtic Park in August for the Champions League qualifier against Swedish side Helsingborg IF and also spent time at the club’s Lennoxtown training facility. Celtic manager Neil Lennon, a former Armagh minor footballer, was a spectator at Croke Park as Donegal defeated Mayo 2-11 to 0-13 in the All-Ireland final and was at the victorious team’s banquet that night as well as joining the Donegal panel in RTE’s studios after appearing on The Late Late Show in September.

McGuinness admitted last month he would be open to offers from other sporting outfits, having previously worked with Airtricity League clubs Derry City and Finn Harps, as well as Limavady United in the Irish League.

“My background is in sports science and in psychology, which are transferable across all sports,” he said. “If a professional football team, or any professional sporting organisation came in and said they were interested in talking about work, it is obviously something that I’d have to consider. I’m a young man with a young family and three kids so it’s something that I’d have to consider.

“It wouldn’t scare me. If something came up, I would have to discuss it with my wife but Donegal is where I’m from and Donegal is my love and passion. It would have to be something that I would have to look at very seriously if there was going to be anything.”

Whether McGuinness would effectively be able to double-job remains to be seen but only last Saturday he spoke about his plans for 2013 with Donegal.

“This is our third year now which is a big, big difference from year one in terms of you would not have known anybody,” he said.

“We have now got a fairly good handle on our squad and if one player, two players or three players can come in and add anything at all, it’s a big, big boost.”

Another Donegal man who made the journey across the Irish Sea to Celtic was Packie Bonner, the former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, who was Jock Stein’s last signing as manager in 1978. Bonner believes McGuinness can make a big impact in Scotland.

“I think it’s on,” Bonner said: “I think it’s going to happen.

“It’s all up probably to Jim McGuinness and whether he wants to leave and go over there to work and whether he can do it part-time — a job he can go over there and when the Donegal games come up he can still keep that role. He might fancy that one.

“What an opportunity for him in many ways, to see can he transfer what he has and the fitness and the psychology bit into a professional soccer club.

“It would be a great experience to see does it work and my advice would be for him to go for it.

“He can always come back to Ireland and get a job back in Gaelic football but he can see can it work and see can he add to his CV. It would be special for him.”

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