CELTIC have announced that Donegal GAA Football manager Jim McGuinness is joining the club as a performance consultant.
The 39-year-old, who has enjoyed great success with Donegal, leading them to the All-Ireland title in 2012, will be based at Lennoxtown and will help in the development of the club’s young players.
And grateful to Neil Lennon for earning this opportunity, he´s relishing getting started towards the end of this month.
“It´s a fantastic opportunity for me on an individual level and I´m very thankful to Neil Lennon for giving me this chance and bringing me into the club,” said Jim McGuinness, speaking exclusively to the official Celtic website.
“Obviously I work in amateur sport and the opportunity to work in professional sport in any capacity is a wonderful chance for me and one I´m very looking forward to. My role will be based on developing the younger players in the club, development and Academy players that are U20 and that level.
“It´s really about trying to work on every single one of the players on an individual level, trying to develop them in several areas, something I have experienced often in the past.
“You are really looking to create a finished product that is good enough to be pushing for the first team and creating a stronger squad at the club.
“We will hopefully look at every single player as an individual project and move them forward as best we can. We will revaluate every couple of months and try and move them forward and give them the best opportunity to develop and grow within the club so they can put their best foot forward in making the ultimate step up to first-team football.”
Neil Lennon has been an admirer of what the coach has achieved at Donegal, leading to the pair fostering a strong professional relationship.
“I suppose the bottom line is that it has been through my work with Donegal,” explained McGuinness. “We started off at Donegal at a very low base, a low level but we have worked very hard in moving the thing forward and getting people to up a level and ultimately getting success on the pitch.
“So I suppose Neil was looking in at that and watching that unfold. I was invited over then saw around the facilities and met all the coaching staff and the support people.
“It was great for myself to see that as you are very interested from your own point of view from bringing things back into your own group. That´s how it really developed.
Neil Lennon, who’s originally from Lurgan, said he’s delighted to bring Jim on board to add to his team and feels he will make a real difference.
The Celtic manager said: “We are absolutely delighted that Jim has agreed to join us. He is a first-class coach and manager and a high-quality individual who has achieved so much already in sport.
“We feel he will add real value to the club in terms of moving our young players forward and in making sure they develop in the right way for the benefit of the club.”
There’s been speculation that McGuinness will combine his Celtic role and the Donegal job with his assistant Rory Gallagher taking on increased responsibility.
McGuinness led Donegal to the All-Ireland title with a victory over Mayo in the final at Croke Park in September.
His achievement is leading a previously underachieving team to an All-Ireland title in two years - and to a semi-final spot in the first year - is widely regarded as one of the most remarkable coaching feats in GAA history.
He promoted a highly disciplined system focused initially on defence which led to widespread criticism in his first season in charge, but Donegal developed a more attacking edge this season as they clinched the county’s second-ever All-Ireland triumph.
McGuinness is two years into a four-year contract with the county.