JIM McGuinness would not be drawn on his future as Donegal senior football team manager following a crushing 16-point defeat by Mayo in yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final at Croke Park.
Cillian O’Connor’s hat-trick inspired James Horan’s ruthless Connacht champions to a 4-17 to 1-10 win over a Donegal side that had the appearance of a team for whom the long road miles had finally taken a toll on the engine.
But for a late salvo of scores that included a Colm McFadden goal, the margin could have been greater. Indeed, Mayo themselves missed a couple of goal chances in the first half, with their 2-10 to 0-4 lead reflective of an utterly dominant display.
McGuinness admitted afterwards that it had been the ‘flattest’ the side has looked in his tenure.
So, where to now?
McGuinness is not one for rash decisions, but the Glenties man has suggested that he will come to a conclusion about his future in the next two or three weeks.
He has completed year three of what had been a four-year term. His wife, Yvonne, is expecting twins and the couple already have three young children while Jim has, for the last ten months, been dividing his time between Donegal and Glasgow, where he works as a Performance Consultant with Celtic FC.
He is unlikely to want to end on a note such as yesterday’s – a day when Donegal suffered their heaviest Championship defeat since 1946. The defeat was one of only seven times in Championship history that Donegal have been beaten by 16 or more.
Still, he will carry out a detailed appraisal and it is expected that he will reach a determination by the time he is to address the September meeting of the Donegal County Committee.
“I won’t be drawn into a ‘will he, won’t he’ situation. I know there’s a lot going on and a lot to get a handle on,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“Our system is the very same every year. It was the same after the U21’s in 2010 and has been with the seniors. We’ll look at the season, we’ll go back and identify all the things that we’ve talked about here today: Injuries, hunger for the game, ourselves.
“We’ve to look at ourselves and what could we have done better in terms of the whole season and this game. Once all that process is done. We’ll know a lot more about the situation.
“Everything will be based on that appraisal. That’s the way we’ve always done it. It won’t change because we got hammered today. It’ll just be a harder appraisal. I think the process I’ve just explained will be the process. That’s all I can say.
“To me it only makes sense at the end of a cycle. You only have to look at where you went right, where you went wrong and what you would have changed.”
McGuinness will consult with his backroom team and his players to examine how their grip on their provincial and All-Ireland crowns was loosened this summer.
He said: “We’ve then to decide what’s the best way forward in terms of the outcome of the analysis. That’s the same every single season.”
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.