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Jim McGuinness Says Donegal "Closed Door" On His Return To Management Team

Jim McGuinness Says Donegal "Closed Door" On His Return To Management Team
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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The fallout from Karl Lacey's abrupt departure from the Donegal youth setup has left the county's football system in shock, and the disagreement may have, at least to some degree, had its roots in a disagreement over the intercounty management job from last year.

In late 2022, negotiations were ongoing to find a new county manager, with Rory Kavanagh the front runner early on, before unexpectedly withdrawing from the race for the job after leading St. Eunan's to the Donegal final.

Kavanagh had assembled a star studded team, alongside Karl Lacey, with former county manager Jim McGuiness also included on the ticket as an assistant coach.

McGuinness ultimately found himself frozen out of the process by the county board and this week spoke publicly for the first time about how close he came to rejoining the management team of the Donegal senior team.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner GAA podcast, McGuinness revealed his disappointment with how the Donegal board handled the situation, saying that they had given the public the idea that he and others had "turned their back" on their county.

Jim McGuinness makes huge Donegal revelation

Jim McGuinness was a crucial member of both of Donegal's All-Ireland wins hitherto, as a player in 1992, and as manager in 2012 - so, naturally, the prospect of McGuinness rejoining the county management team would have been met with excitement.


When he was approached to join a prospective team as an assistant behind the scenes, McGuinness found the offer hard to turn down:


It was very difficult for me not to take it. They did call me and spoke to me and asked me, I explained that.

I also explained I wasn’t going away in the summer. We had come home; we made that decision as a family. I knew I would be here until the summer at least.

I said I was available to do something with the team or help with the team. Rory and Karl were considering that situation, I was going to go along with them.

Donegal GAA were interested in the coaching ticket, and interviewed the group for the positions in question.

Jim McGuinness

31 August 2014; Donegal manager Jim McGuinness. GAA Football All Ireland Senior Championship, Semi-Final, Dublin v Donegal, Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

McGuinness made it clear that he was happy to be involved even if Kavanagh and Lacey were unsuccessful, despite his loyalty to the pair. When Kavanagh withdrew from the race, and Lacey decided to focus on the youth setup, McGuinness found himself unexpectedly frozen out:

Rory and Karl, for want of a better word, are your babies. They are guys you coached. I wanted to see them go on the right foot and help them.

I said that to the county board. Then when the Rory thing didn’t work out, they never came back to me. We never had another conversation.

Jim McGuinness was understandably taken aback by the lack of contact by Donegal late in the selection process - but a bigger shock was to come.

McGuinness said that, when Donegal announced the new management team and name-checked all the other candidates that had gone through the process, he felt betrayed. He said that the announcement from Donegal gave the sense he and others had walked away from their county, and said it was not a "true reflection" of wht had happened:

The one thing I found disappointing about what happened was whenever they decided to put the management team they had in place, the whole thing was supposed to be a confidential process.

They name-checked everybody. It was almost like they were sending a signal. We have asked all these guys and they don’t want it. As if you were turning your back on your county. That was not the case.

I had said to them I was happy and available. The door was closed in many respects on me and the word was filtered out at the county board meeting that all these people had been spoken to. I didn’t feel that was a true reflection of what happened behind the scenes.

Given Karl Lacey walked away from the Donegal Academy setup just last month due to a "lack of support," it would seem as though there are issues across the board in Donegal GAA.


SEE ALSO: Bernard Brogan Reveals Importance Of Dublin Lambay Trip Ahead Of 2019 Final

Bernard Brogan Dublin



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