Jim McGuinness said he would be surprised if Donegal can’t push on now and continue to compete at national level for a good few years.
The former senior county manager was speaking at the annual GAA Banquet on Saturday night when he honoured for his five years involved with Donegal.
“We have a very, very good senior team. We were in the Ulster U-21 final last year; we were in the All-Ireland minor final. There’s not a lot of counties can boast that at the moment. That is similar to Kerry, Dublin at their peaks.
“We’re in a very good position. We have a fantastic captain and fantastic leader and I know he will be driving the process from a player point of view over the coming years. That, for me, gives me great hope and I’m hoping to be around for some of the games, to be going to them and enjoying them. I don’t say that lightly, I firmly believe the future is very, very bright,” said McGuinness, who added that they needed to look at underage structures and club structures and how we develop players to make sure that the talented minor players are followed by the U-14s andU-16s of the present.
Asked by MC on the night about his time as Donegal manager, he said: “It was something I wanted to do all my life. Every coaching job I ever did was with a view to coaching Donegal. I suppose the pain of losing so many Ulster finals, after being part of the 1992 set up, created a burden of desire to try and do something,” said Jim, who said his main aim was to try and make a difference.
“We didn’t win everything that we hoped but I think as a group there was a real honesty in the group. The principles we set out on our very first day we carried through to the last day. From that point of view it was a great experience and a great journey.
“All the players can look in the mirror and we as a management can look in the mirror and we can be very happy with that. There’s no guarantees that you’re going to win things, but if everybody is thinking the same way, even when away from the group, then that is a very special thing. We became very, very close. It was just a lovely thing to be part of,” said McGuinness, who said the five years was a huge chunk out of his life.
McGuinness said that he had sat down with his management team of Paul, Damien, John, and Pat and had a lot of talking after the final. “We came to the conclusion at the end of that that it wasn’t the right thing to go back just because we lost.”
The Glenties man said he was really enjoying his present increased level at Celtic. “When you go to study and go to college and you’re hoping to get a job at the end of it in sports science, this is one of the dream jobs. It’s great to be involved; you’re hoping you’re adding value and bringing something to the table. It’s very demanding,” said McGuinness, who also said it was very rewarding. “It’s like a National League game or a Championship game every couple of days. It’s a great journey for me to be on again. We’re still in all competitions and we looking to try and prolong that as long as we can,” said McGuinness.