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Donegal clubs to explore McGuinness’s fixture quandary

Jim
McGuinness on the sideline against Mayo. Photo: Donna McBride

Jim McGuinness on the sideline
against Mayo. Photo: Donna McBride

BY CHRIS
MCNULTY
JIM McGuinness’s proposals and suggestions
for the club fixtures schedule in Donegal will be aired at Monday
monthly meeting of the Donegal County Committee in Ballybofey, but
no decision on any possible alterations or indeed the manager’s
future will be made on the night. There has been any amount of
speculation on the subject of the All-Ireland winning manager’s
future since he said on Sunday that ‘all the systems have to be in
place’ before he would commit to leading Donegal into 2014. “The
biggest thing for me is to be able to prepare the team properly,”
he said on BBC television. “I don’t think we got that this year on
some levels. That’s one of the issues we’ll be looking at and there
are also a few other things.” The scheduling of club games is the
biggest sticking point for the management and there remains the
possibility of a club forum in the coming weeks to thrash out the
various scenarios for the fixtures. Any ammendments must be made by
the clubs as a collective body as the Competitions Controls
Committee (CCC) merely implement what the clubs have voted in. No
decision can be made on Monday to this end and would need the
backing of clubs at a subsequent sitting, which has raised the
possibility of a fixtures forum taking place. McGuinness will not
be in attendance at Monday night’s meeting and it is now expected
that he will deliver an address to the next sitting, on Monday
October 7th, which gives the parties some wriggle room to put those
‘systems’ and ‘conditions’ McGuinness talked about on Sunday in
place. McGuinness, who does have a desire to remain as Donegal
manager for the fourth year of his tenure, met with his panel last
Saturday and he and members of his backroom team subsequently sat
down with the Co Executive’s three main officers – Chairman Sean
Dunnion, Secretary Aodh Mairtin O Fearraigh and Treasurer Grace
Boyle. The Co Executive met for a scheduled meeting on Monday
night, after which they released a brief statement on Tuesday
afternoon. “It was the unanimous view of Coiste Bainistiochta CLG
Dhun na nGall at their meeting on Monday August 26th that Jim
McGuinness should remain as senior football team manager for 2014.
Further discussions with Jim McGuinness will now take place in due
course,” read the statement. Senior Co Board officials have vowed
that they will do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure that McGuinness
remains in situ. While the structure of the senior championship in
Donegal is not likely to change, the county management are
understood to be amenable to giving their blessing to two rounds of
the group stage taking place after the conclusion of the National
Football League with the remainder of the club championship parked
until Donegal’s involvement in the All-Ireland series has ended.
His concerns are nothing new, of course. At the May meeting,
McGuinness claimed that he had been ‘misled’ by the CCC in relation
to an agreement whereby all games in Divisions 1 and 2 would take
place on the one day, either a Saturday or a Sunday. Three rounds
of the Donegal Club Championship were played during Donegal’s
Ulster campaign and it is understood that management were
frustrated at not having full access to their players during those
weeks, while injuries to Karl Lacey and Neil Gallagher, sustained
in SFC action with their clubs, added to their grievances at a time
when they had their players for just four of eight available
Tuesdays or Thursdays between the Ulster semi-final and final.
These sorts of impasses are not uncommon, of course. Just two weeks
after last year’s All-Ireland final, it emerged that the Mayo
manager James Horan was seeking clarification on a number of
matters before he’d commit, including provision of training
pitches, the availability of Elverys MacHale Park and hotel bases
for matches in Dublin.

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