BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE Donegal County Board will give Jim McGuinness ‘two to three weeks’ before meeting with the Glenties man to talk things over and gauge whether or not he wants to extend his tenure as the Donegal manager into a fifth year.
Never before has a Donegal senior football manager had as much support as McGuinness, with everyone from Malin to Bundoran and from Lifford to Arranmore hoping that he arrives at the conclusion that he wants to take another term as manager.
McGuinness has led Donegal through a stunning period of success.
He has managed Donegal to three All-Ireland finals, two at senior level and one at under-21, while he has won three Ulster senior and one Ulster Under-21 title. In 2011 he won a Division 2 League title and earlier this year saw Donegal win promotion back into Division 1 of the National League.
At the end of the fourth year of what was a four-year term in office, McGuinness – who only returned at the end of last year following lengthy consideration – will now assess his options.
“We would love Jim to stay on and that is the feeling through the whole county,” said Donegal County Board Chairman, Sean Dunnion.
“He has a lot to consider and we have to give him time to think about everything he has to take on board. We hope he remains on board, but we do understand that he has a lot of commitments and a lot on his plate. We’ll give him whatever time he needs.
“We always said that we would give him a number of weeks. We did that last year and we will do the same again this year. Jim needs that time to reflect and we will talk to him when he feels the time is right.
“We will definitely allow him two or three weeks.
“It’s still very raw the whole thing.”
The Donegal Executive has no meeting until Monday-week, October 6, the same night as the Donegal county committee next sits in Ballybofey.
McGuinness has a young family in Glenties and works as a performance consultant at Celtic FC in Glasgow. When he spoke on Monday, the day after Sunday’s All-Ireland final defeat by Kerry in Croke Park, McGuinness insisted that Celtic were fully supportive of his commitments to Donegal.
“Celtic have been absolutely fantastic to me,” he said.
“They have been really top class, from Neil (Lennon), the previous manager, and Ronnie (Deila), this manager, the chief executive (Peter Lawell), Dermot (Desmond) the owner, they have been so flexible with me.
“Donegal has always been number one in terms of ‘whatever you need to do, that’s what you need to do.’
“So my flights and everything would always work around our training and where we are. If there was a game on then I would miss the game to go to the Donegal training.”
Meanwhile, the Donegal Board will meet with members of the referees’ administration panel as well as a number of the county’s leading referees next week to address any issues local whistlers have. It follows talk of a threat of strike action by the referees because of a gripe over the allocation of All-Ireland tickets to their members.
A meeting of the referees was set to take place in the O’Donnell Park clubhouse last night, Thursday.
“There is absolutely no threat to this weekend’s game,” Mr Dunnion said, easing fears that a strike could impact on the packed club championship programme on Saturday and Sunday.
“We have a request to meet and we have agreed to meet with them next week and we will address any issues.”