Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has branded as ‘ridiculous’ a claim by Dublin City University manager Niall Moyna that he put undue pressure on Martin McElhinney to put Donegal ahead of DCU at weekend.
The Donegal boss was responding to a claim made by Moyna that McGuinness put ‘undue pressure’ on McElhinney to play for Donegal in a challenge game against Monaghan in Clones on Saturday morning, despite the fact that he was due to play in the O’Byrne Cup semi-final against Meath in Navan later on Saturday evening.
Moyna also claimed that McElhinney was threatened with expulsion from the Donegal panel if he did not make himself available for the challenge game.
“It is utterly ridiculous to suggest that I put unfair pressure on Martin McElhinney or threatened him with expulsion from the panel if he did not turn up for the game against Monaghan, “ McGuinness told the Democrat/ Peoples Press last night.
“I know Martin McElhinney too well and think too much of him to do that to him. I have known Martin for a long time going back to his days as a student in Limavady and he is a player I rate highly and always felt he had potential.
“When I took over as Donegal manager Martin was recovering from a major groin surgery and as a result his level of fitness levels had dropped. Over the last 18 months I have got the best advice for Martin and also have had a strength and conditioning coach working with him one-to-one once week to build up his fitness and get it back up to the level required to play inter-county football.
“Now after investing so much time and expertise, do people think that I would abuse such a player. To be honest it is absolutely ridiculous to think or suggest that I would and I reject totally the suggestion that I did and I’m very annoyed that some one would make that claim.”
McGuinness also stated that when he met his players at the start of the year at their very first meeting they had a spreadsheet done out of all the fixtures involving the Colleges in the Dr. McKenna Cup, the FBD League and the O’Byrne Cup.
They planned their programme around those dates and made out their own fixtures accordingly so as their would be no conflict or overlap.
On that spreadsheet the semi-finals of the O’Byrne Cup was fixed for Sunday January 22nd and the first he heard that the game was being played on Saturday night was when he rang Martin McEhinney.
“Seemingly Meath requested the game be brought forward to Saturday night and D.C.U. agreed. When Martin told me he had a game on Saturday evening, I said to him we have our first game in the league in two weeks and that I had all the players from the other Colleges - Mark McHugh (Sligo IT), and Leo McLoone and Eoin Waide (UUJ) and I wanted him to play to get a look at him. I said to him how can we expect to play you if we haven’t seen you play.
“Unfortunately, Martin injured his ankle in the warm up and did not get to play in the challenge game. But the problem arose with the changing of the DCU game and I feel it is very unfair we have to work around the Colleges fixtures and do not seem to have any say in the matter at all. As a county manager I’m expected to have a team ready for two weeks time,” said McGuinness.