Ulster SFC – 2012 experience stands to Glenties’ McGuinness

The name McGuinness will forever be famous in Donegal after the county won their second ever All-Ireland title in 2012.

Manager Jim was the mastermind of that famous win, but he was not the only McGuinness involved that season.

Charles McGuinness, Jim’s nephew, was part of the back room staff. The Fresh face teenager helped with the jerseys, water bottles and any odd job that he could do to help the team.

He gleaned everything that he could from the experience, and seven years later, he is applying it to his time as a senior footballer with his club.

You learn a lot from being around those players. You see how men carry themselves through the experience of those big days,” he said.

There were no egos. They reacted differently. Some did a lot of talking, some were quiet. It was all different.

On the big days, when you are around the likes of Michael Murphy, you learn a lot.”

2012 wasn’t his only experience though. Charles had assisted Jim for years, and helped him out during his various coaching roles.

It was a nice experience. It is nice to be around those players, helping out whatever way I could.

I was always around those dressing rooms, learning things. You would always hear the roars of the crowd. That stuff didn’t faze me.”

And now, seven years on, Charles McGuinness is enjoying the roars of the crowds as Naomh Conaill emerged from the Donegal championship and into the Ulster Club series.

It has been an incredible season so far.

Our main aim was to get back to the final. Then it was getting over the line.”

Winning the Donegal championship was important for Naomh Conaill. They won in 2010 and again in 2015, Charles’s first season involved with the senior team, but they suffered three years of hurt, losing two county finals in 2017 and 2018.

This year’s county final was epic. The two teams drew twice, but managed to see off Gaoth Dobhair at the third time of asking.

There was a good bit of hurt as we had lost two finals in a row.

We had been underdogs in the semi-final against St Eunan’s. And we were underdogs against Gaoth Dobhair in the final, and rightly so as they were Ulster champions.”

McGuinness savoured this year’s win more so. He was only a fringe player back in 2015, and in the following years slipped down to reserve football after getting injured.

He said that they celebrated hard after beating Gaoth Dobhair, but were still able to get focused for the Ulster club series.

The key to their success in the first round of Ulster was the depth of their panel. Naomh Conaill, who are managed by Martin Regan, have a squad of 30.

There is a lot of competition for places. There are boys in there who have All-Ireland medals, and county medals. It is very hard to break into the team. I am just trying to keep my place.”

It tends to be the big name players that have played well.

Against Castlerahan in the quarter-final, Anthony Thompson was outstanding, as was Ciaran Thompson, county man Brendan McDyer and Kieran Gallagher. McGuinness kicked two points, one from a free.

That Regan is able to spring Brick Molloy, Nathan Byrne and Marty Boyle from the bench only serves to highlight the depth of talent that is at his disposal.

It is the panel that has got us over the line. But it is also down to us being mentally focused.

Against Castlerahan we decided that we would go all out in the first ten minutes to try and get control of the game. Then they had their purple patch.

Half time came at a good time for us and then we went out and had a good start to the second half, but it was a bit helter skelter at the end.”

Despite being tired, they held on to win 1-11 to 0-11, controlling the game expertly.

They are now heading into a semi-final against a Clontibret side who, like Naomh Conaill, beat the defending county champions in their county decider, and who are also hoping to win their first senior provincial decider.

The Ulster Club championship is very competitive. It has all the best teams. We were there five years ago, and reached the final.

There was not talk about Ulster this year. But the way it is now, there is a massive opportunity to get to a final and to win Ulster. We would like to be the first team from the club to do that.”

McGunness’s has seen big days before, he hopes he can enjoy another big day this weekend.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW