McGuinness experienced all the highs and lows of Irish football

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Joseph Ndo and Jason McGuinness with the FAI Cup following their victory over Shelbourne in the 2011 final. Photo by Kevin Finn
By Alan Finn
  
At the heart of any good team, is a good defence.
  
You only have to look as far as the rearguards of some of Sligo Rovers finest hours – Chris Rutherford and Tony Stenson in 1977 and 1983, Gavin Dykes and Declan Boyle for the 1994 treble, Gavin Peers and Jim Lauchlan for the 2010 cup double – and that’s just the centre-backs!
  
Peers would forge his second memorable partnership at the back in 2011 with the signing of Jason McGuinness.
  
Following severe financial problems, an exodus from Bohemians had begun at the end of the 2010 season. McGuinness was one of many players seeking a new club and it looked for all the money in the world that he would remain in the capital, or at least ply his trade as nearby as possible.
  
One persistent Liverpudlian however was determined to convince the defender that he would enjoy a change of scenery in the north west.
  
“There was interest from Dundalk and I got a phone call from Paul Cook, but if I am being honest I didn’t want to leave Dublin because my wife just had a baby. Paul insisted that I come down to Sligo with my wife, so we went down and he really went out of his way to show me what Sligo had to offer, he took us out for food, showed us the ground, showed us around Riverstown. By the end of it we were sold on the idea so we said let’s do it.”
  
McGuinness recalled his teething problems during the early stages of the 2011 campaign and how some simple injury management eventual resulted in him hitting top form.
  
“I got off to a bad start, my first five games were poor. I hadn’t played much football before that, I think those were my first games in eight months. It took me a while to get going but Cookie knew I was struggling with injuries, I was overdoing it to get fit. He told me to listen to my body, so I was pulled out of training sessions here and there, but I ended up not missing many games after it, I was made to feel like a million dollars and we were playing teams off the park, you didn’t go to a game wondering if you could win, you wondered how many you could win by.”
  

For the full interview with Jason, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now!

Alternatively, you can purchase an online edition here

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