Many football and hurling managers are under the cosh, just now, with the knives being sharpened. Not so JIM McGUINESS. His tenure in office is quite safe after a rollicking time over the past dozen weeks or so.

Ignore Donegal’s exploits last Sunday. That’s a story for another day as August had dawned before the ‘Men from the Hills’, as Anthony Molloy described them when holding high the Sam Maguire Cup 20 years ago, lowered the Kerry colours.

July was also a blistering month for Donegal senior footballers as manager Jim McGuiness led his troops to victory in the Ulster Championship with one of the biggest margins, for many years, over Down in the final at Clones.

For his leadership, the Glenties man earns the Quinn-direct/Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for July.

When told of the honour, he responded: “That’s great, thanks very much. It is a good bonus after winning the Ulster Championship for a second consecutive year.”

Before making his name as a manger, McGuiness cut a dash as a player and has many trophies to prove that. He was the babe of the 1992 Donegal All-Ireland winning panel and with his club, Naomh Chonaill (Glenties), he won two Donegal SFC medals. At college level he collected three Sigerson Cup medals. Two were won with Tralee IT in 1998 and ’99 (as captain) and then, in 2001, he skippered UUJ to victory.

Jim with members of the UGAAWA at the presentation.

To win the July Merit Award Jim (39) beat off challenges from his players Frank McGlynn, Mark McHugh and Ryan Bradley.

The presentation of an engraved Belleek Living vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon, a UGAAWA Sports Voucher and training gear from O’Neill’s International Sports was made to Jim McGuiness, at a function in the Mount Errigal Hotel Letterkenny on Wednesday, August 8, by UGAAWA chairman JP Graham.

The winner will also receive two tickets and overnight accommodation for the Ulster GAA Writers’ Silver Jubilee banquet at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on Friday, November 16.

                               All Photographs by Oliver McVeigh, Sportsfile

By chance Pat Spillane spotted the great Jim and dived in to congratulate him on the victory and the award and did not mind having a few photos. The greatest smile appeared on Jim’s face

Photos © Oliver McVeigh