Many football and hurling managers are under the cosh, just now, with the knives being sharpened. Not so Jim McGuinness. His tenure in office is quite safe after a rollicking time over the past dozen weeks or so.
Ignore Donegal’s exploits last Sunday. That’s a story for another day as August had dawned before the ‘Men from the Hills’, as Anthony Molloy described them when holding high the Sam Maguire Cup 20 years ago, lowered the Kerry colours.
July was also a blistering month for Donegal senior footballers as manager Jim McGuiness led his troops to victory in the Ulster Championship with one of the biggest margins, for many years, over Down in the final at Clones.
For his leadership, the Glenties man earns the Quinn-direct/Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for July.
When told of the honour, he responded: “That’s great, thanks very much. It is a good bonus after winning the Ulster Championship for a second consecutive year.”
Before making his name as a manger, McGuiness cut a dash as a player and has many trophies to prove that. He was the babe of the 1992 Donegal All-Ireland winning panel and with his club, Naomh Chonaill (Glenties), he won two Donegal SFC medals. At college level he collected three Sigerson Cup medals. Two were won with Tralee IT in 1998 and ’99 (as captain) and then, in 2001, he skippered UUJ to victory.
To win the July Merit Award Jim (39) beat off challenges from his players Frank McGlynn, Mark McHugh and Ryan Bradley.
The presentation of an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon, a UGAAWA Sports Voucher and training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports was made to Jim McGuiness, at a function in the Mount Errigal Hotel Letterkenny on Wednesday, August 8, by UGAAWA chairman JP Graham.
The winner will also receive two tickets and overnight accommodation for the Ulster GAA Writers’ Silver Jubilee banquet at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on Friday, November 16.
Speaking at the presentation McGuinness reflected on the great win over Kerry: “We were happy with a lot of the performance and then let it slips towards the end and put ourselves under pressure.
“In reflection the same thing happened against Tyrone, when we pushed on in the second half and kicked five points and pushed it out to 0-12 to 0-8 at the time, with 68 minutes gone.
“And then we found ourselves under a bit of pressure in the last few minutes then too. This is something we have to address in the coming weeks, but I suppose if we are in that position against Cork with a few minutes to go we will be happy.
“Overall, it was a great result and it is what we set out to achieve at the start of the year; and that was to play in an All-Ireland semi-final. We are a game away from the final and we now have to put all our energy into getting ready for it.
“Cork are favourites for the All-Ireland. Their form in the league for the last few years backs up their credentials. They won the championship in 2010 so we know what we are up against but at the same time we have to focus on ourselves and get our own frame of mind right and take the positives from the win over Kerry and look at all the other aspects as well and revaluate between now and the weekend,” said McGuinness.