McGuinness factor has given county a lift says Donegal U-20 boss

By Niall Gartland

NEW Donegal u-20 manager Shaun Paul Barrett hopes the Jim McGuinness factor will trickle down to his own team as they gear up for the start of their Ulster Championship campaign.

2023 was beset with difficulties, particularly behind the scenes in relation to underage structures and the departure of Karl Lacey as Head of the Academy, but the return of McGuinness as senior inter-county manager has helped lift the mood in the county.

Shaun Paul Barrett’s son Luke is involved as part of McGuinness’ backroom but he gives his son space and time to do his own thing.

“The seniors have got a kick out of Jim coming back in again. Obviously, with his experience and what he has achieved previously, there’s a good momentum now to the county, and hopefully we’ll get a kick on the back of that as well.

“We’re doing our own thing separate to the seniors, but there’s a kind of a feel-good factor there, and obviously the seniors have done well early in the season.”

Donegal get their u-20 campaign underway next Wednesday away to Cavan. While their campaign won’t be defined by an opening stage group stage match, Barrett is eager to get off to the best possible start.

“Cavan is going to be a massive task when you go down to Breffni Park.

“I’m just hoping that we can play a bit of football when we get there.

“Cavan have been hugely successful at u-21, they’ve been in finals and won finals, they were the most successful county for ten years before the u-20 competition started.

“They’re a very passionate county for their football and we’re going into the lion’s den, it’s going to be very difficult for us, but we’re looking forward to the challenge as well.”

The game has been pushed back to Wednesday to accommodate their Abbey CBS contingent who played in the All-Ireland Schools Football final at ‘B’ level this Saturday. Also on the squad are Luke McGlynn and Oisin Caulfield who have linked in with the Donegal senior set-up.

“They’re with the seniors. Sporadically they have been back a couple of times with us, but we’re hoping that we’ll be getting more access to them now going forward in the competition. But obviously, when they’re in contention for the senior team, Jim is going to have first refusal for them. But Jim is very good, he’s very knowledgeable, and hopefully they’ll be released. I know the seniors have a lot of injuries at the minute, so Jim has to look after his panel as well.”

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