BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FOLLOWING Shay Given’s appearance at last Friday night’s training session in Convoy, Seamus Coleman could be the next Premier League star to lend his advice to the Donegal senior football team.
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Given took a full part last week in a session at the Donegal GAA Training Centre in Convoy, playing in small-sided games having earlier worked alongside goalkeepers Paul Durcan and Michael Boyle. At the end of the session, Given addressed the Donegal players and management.
Jim McGuinness extended the invite to Given, who attended Donegal’s Ulster Championship win over Derry at Celtic Park the previous Sunday and now the Donegal manager may seek Coleman’s input.
“I would love to get Seamus Coleman into the group some time,” McGuinness told the Donegal News.
Coleman has been excused from the Republic of Ireland’s end-of-season trip to America this week and is expected to spend some time in his native Killybegs before returning to pre-season training with Everton in July.
“I feel that he could actually be a part of the group, but for where he went with his career. A lot of our boys would have played with Seamus and look up to him a lot.
“He is having a fantastic career and has had a superb season for Everton. He is a credit to himself and is a great role model.”
Coleman was a promising Gaelic footballer in his time with Killybegs at underage level and played on the Donegal Under-16 team that won the Buncrana Cup in 2004. Donegal captain Michael Murphy was a team-mate, as were the likes of Martin McElhinney and Ross Wherity. Coleman scored a point that year in the semi-final win over Armagh and played a starring role in the final triumph against Derry, a game Donegal won 1-11 to 1-10.
He graduated to the Donegal minors, before penning a deal with Sligo Rovers in the League of Ireland, a step that ultimately paved the way for his big move to Goodison Park in 2009.
Coleman remains an avid Donegal fan and has attended several Championship games during McGuinness’s
reign, while he was at MacCumhaill Park to support Killybegs in last year’s Donegal SFC final against Glenswilly.
McGuinness said: “It doesn’t matter what sport you’re involved in, you can always have an impact at the top level in another in some capacity.
“The likes of Shay and Seamus are Donegal men through and through. They have a great interest and the boys all have great time for them. It isn’t every county who have men like that on their doorsteps.
“They have good passion for football and it’s a case where both can learn off each other. With Shay, it was great for the players to hear what he had to say. Shay has done a lot at the very top level, playing at the World Cup, the European Championships, and FA Cup final. Those life experiences are something he can draw from and can impart to our players.”
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.