BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JIM McGuinness has stepped down as Donegal manager, the Donegal county board has confirmed.
Speculation has been rife about McGuinness’s future since Donegal’s All-Ireland defeat to Kerry less than two weeks ago, but earlier tonight the Glenties man conveyed his decision to the Donegal squad and to the main officers of the County Board.
McGuinness led Donegal through their most successful period in their history, winning an All-Ireland in 2012 as well as capturing three Ulster titles after taking over from John Joe Doherty in July 2010.
“CLG Dhún na nGall wish to announce that Jim McGuinness has formally stepped down from his position as Senior Football Team Manager with immediate effect,” a Donegal GAA statement read.
“CLG Dhún na nGall wish to thank Jim for his massive contribution during his tenure over the last five years, as Under 21 and Senior Football Team Manager.
“During this term, he has brought unprecedented success to our county and has made every Donegal person across the globe very proud of their county and their players.
“During his tenure he has guided our Under 21 footballers to an All-Ireland final, having won the county’s first U21 provincial title since 1995.
“As senior team manager, he guided the county to four provincial finals, winning three of them, and guided the county team to a record two All-Ireland final appearances in the space of three years, winning a historic second All Ireland for the county in 2012.”
For a time last year it looked as if McGuinness would step down from the position following Donegal’s heavy quarter-final defeat by Mayo, but after a series of meetings he agreed to remain in situ.
Donegal bounced back to win promotion into Division 1, reclaim their Ulster crown by beating Monaghan in the Ulster final and scored a memorable All-Ireland semi-final win over Dublin before losing in the final against Kerry.
“He has left a tremendous legacy,” County Chairman Sean Dunnion said.
McGuinness was appointed as a Performance Consultant with Celtic FC in Glasgow in the weeks after Donegal’s All-Ireland win in 2012. In recent months he has had his role increased in Glasgow and now works with Ronny Deila’s first-team squad.
As well as his job at Celtic Park, McGuinness has a young family in Glenties.
As Donegal’s Under-21 manager in 2010 he won an Ulster title and reached the All-Ireland final, which they lost to Dublin.
The Donegal County Board is scheduled to meet on Monday night next, after which the county committee sits for its monthly meeting, at which club delegates will be briefed on the plan to appoint McGuinness’s successor.
DECLAN BONNER will look to collect the first piece of silverware from his second tenure in charge of Donegal.