GAA Football

Jim McGuinness in the frame for Cavan manager's job

Jim McGuinness brought success to Donegal

ALL-Ireland-winning Donegal player and manager Jim McGuinness is the most high-profile name to have been linked with the vacant Cavan manager’s job.

The Glenties native, who guided Donegal to the Sam Maguire in 2012 and the All-Ireland final two years later, is one of a half-dozen names who have been linked with taking over the reins of the Breffni Blues in the wake of Mattie McGleenan’s recent departure.

The others are former Westmeath manager Denis Connerton and four home-grown candidates – Jason O’Reilly, Finbar O’Reilly, Mickey Graham and Peter Reilly - all of whom come with impressive CVs.

Cavan chairman Gerry Brady heads a sub-committee tasked with identifying suitable candidates, conducting interviews and then reporting back to the county board with their recommendation.

With the senior championship starting a fortnights’ time, The Irish News understands that Brady’s committee hope to put forward their choice for ratification by August 20.

Under McGleenan, Cavan won promotion to Division One this year, but their Ulster Championship ambitions were derailed by Donegal in the preliminary round and, after squeezing past Down in the Qualifiers, the Breffnimen’s campaign ended with defeat to Tyrone.

Three-time Ulster Championship winner McGuinness is the highest-profile of the early contenders. The former inter-county midfielder took a time-out from the GAA in 2014 after Donegal lost the All-Ireland final to Kerry to concentrate on his increasing responsibility with Glasgow Celtic.

Last year he was named as assistant coach at Chinese Super League side Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC but resigned in January and had been linked with becoming the new manager of Galway United. McGuinness is a popular pundit with SKY Sports and a newspaper columnist.

Meanwhile, Denis Connerton stepped down as Longford manager after three years in charge of the midlands county. He inherited a side in Division Four and took them to a third place finish in Division Three this year. In the Championship he masterminded Qualifier wins over Down, Monaghan, Louth and, this year, Meath. Dublin ended Longford’s Leinster campaign and the Qualifier loss to Kildare proved to be Connerton’s last game in charge.

Jason O’Reilly, Mickey Graham, Finbar Reilly and Peter Reilly head an impressive list of home grown contenders.

Jason O’Reilly is the current Cavan Gaels manager. Under his management the Gaels won last year’s senior championship and went almost two years unbeaten in the league until Castlerahan ended their run in the league final last Sunday. He also won an intermediate championship with Lacken and has managed his native Belturbet.

Mickey Graham is currently the manager of Mullinalaghta, St Columba's who are back-to-back senior championship winners in Longford. He is also a former Cavan minor manager and, like Jason O’Reilly, a former Cavan senior player.

Peter Reilly is a former county U21 manager who guided Cavan to Ulster U21 titles in 2013 and 2014. He also won an intermediate championship with Arvagh.

Finbar Reilly was a coach with the Cavan County Board for several years and was central to the success of the St Patrick’s Cavan MacRory Cup-winning side in 2015. He also managed Lacken to the Division One league title.

“We’re looking for someone with lots of experience,” said Cavan PRO Mark O’Rourke.

“All of the people who have been linked with the post have good credentials and they have been successful.”

Whoever the new man is, his first task will to prepare Cavan for what will be a demanding NFL Division One campaign next year. When he took over from predecessor Terry Hyland, McGleenan also inherited a newly-promoted top flight side but despite beating Mayo and drawing with Kerry and Monaghan, he couldn’t keep them up. His side bounced back impressively though and won promotion last year along with Roscommon.

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