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'I Met Him Outside Coppers' - Donegal Star Reveals Shaky Start To Jim McGuinness Era

'I Met Him Outside Coppers' - Donegal Star Reveals Shaky Start To Jim McGuinness Era
By Gary Reilly
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With the benefit of hindsight, it seems Jim McGuinness was the only man that could take Donegal to the next level. A team no one wanted to manage was picked up by the prodigal son and turned into a team of world beaters. At least that's the narrative we've come to know.

However, according to former Donegal star Rory Kavanagh, that is a highly simplified version of a story which began in a vastly different manner.

In an extensive interview with the Donegal Democrat, Kavanagh has dismissed some of the assumptions about the all-conquering McGuinness. Rather than sweep into the Donegal dressing room as some messiah-like figure, McGuinness was treated with an awful lot of scepticism when he first took over in 2010.

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At lot of that scepticism stemmed from the fact that he was still viewed as one of the lads, and not only that, he was a Glenties man through and through. Something which didn't sit well with Kavanagh.

It's fair to say the 32 year didn't have a high opinion of his new manager, something which may not have been helped by their meeting the night before McGuinness' first training session in charge.

He was the buck who used to drive around Jordanstown with the sunglasses in the Toyota Celica.

Yet here he was now - the Donegal manager. St Eunan’s played at the Kilmacud Sevens the weekend of the 2010 All-Ireland final and I’d actually met Jim the night before our very first Donegal training session, which was a kind of trial in Ballybofey. But I’d met him outside Copper’s!

As we all know now, things turned out quite well for Donegal. However, Kavanagh has explained that it took a while for McGuinness' methods to make an impression on him.

Jim was saying all these crazy things to me - putting medals in my back pocket, gym regimes and nutrition plans and what we were going to do in year one, year two and year three.

I can’t say now I was right behind it at the start. I doubted whether this man was the real deal.

He was, as Kavanagh soon began to understand, and the rest is history as they say.

[Donegal Democrat]

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