McGuinness: Celtic challenge ‘a bit like the Donegal project’

Only a week into his new role as a Performance Consultant with Celtic FC, Jim McGuinness has already seen similarities with his job as Donegal football manager.

McGuinness began the job, based at Celtic’s Lennoxtown training base, last Monday and the Glenties man says the job of turning Celtic’s youngsters into SPL players is similar to what he achieved with Donegal.

“A bit like the Donegal project, it’s about trying to tick as many boxes as possible,” McGuinness said of his new role.

“The players I will be working with aren’t the finished articles, but it’s about trying to get them up to a level. If there are other areas in their life that they’re trying to work on outside of football, I’ll try to help guide them on that road as well.

“With Donegal, too, the finished product takes an awful lot of work to get players up to the level of being an All-Ireland winner.”

Since his appointment to the post at the Glasgow giants last month, McGuinness spent most of his time fielding questions about how he’ll double-job between Glasgow and Donegal.

As he readies himself to split his time between Glasgow’s East End and Donegal, McGuinness insisted hisfocus will not be distracted from Tír Chonaill’s defence of the Anglo-Celt and Sam Maguire Cups.

A mouth-watering Ulster Championship opener against Tyrone fills his Donegal portfolio, but McGuinness believes – like the youngsters he’sbegun working with in Glasgow – the Sam Maguire holders can go up a few more notches in 2013.

“We feel that we have created something special,” he said.

“There is a lot more out there for them if they can keep their focus. Donegal is very lucky to have such a group of players that is so focused, so committed and so dedicated.

“I can see that in their eyes. That makes my job, as a manager and a coach, much easier.

“I firmly believe we’re not the finished article and I firmly believe that they still have another 35 to 40% to find in themselves.

“We have come from a situation of having a lot of bad days out with Donegal and a lot of hurt; days out watching Tyrone win three All-Irelands and five Ulsters. Our lads are now getting a taste of that.”

McGuinness was first courted by Celtic in the days after Donegal’s All-Ireland semi-final win over Cork and Hoops manager Neil Lennon attended both the All-Ireland final against Mayo and Donegal’s post-match banquet.

However his satchel is already filling with new material after only a week in Glasgow.

“It has been fantastic in terms of my own learning in looking at their sports science stuff and how they do all of that,” he said.

“It’s been very interesting too watching how they monitor their players in terms of rest, recovery, sessions and it has been very interesting.

“I’ve been watching their training too and watching the coaches and how they coach. It has been very good for my own development to sit back and watch all of that unfold.”


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