Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness has penned an emotional tribute to ’an irreplaceable figure’, Pat Shovelin, who sadly died last month.
Popular goalkeeping coach Pat passed away at home in Doneyloop after a ten-month battle with a rare form of cancer, cholangiocarcinoma.
Donegal’s selectors, Damien Diver, Donal Reid, Pat Shovelin, coach Jim McGuinness, selector Paul McGonigle and Dr Charlie McManus. Picture: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
He and McGuinness were second cousins and for the duration of McGuinness’s tenure as Donegal Under-21 and senior manager Pat was the goalkeeping coach. This year, he returned to work with Declan Bonner in the Donegal U21s.
“He was the first person I went to when I was given the job of managing the Donegal U-21 team,” McGuinness remembers in a highly-emotional column in today’s Irish Times.
“He stood as godfather to our youngest child. I knew I could trust him. He was taken aback when I first asked him in. But I knew what he would bring to our group.
“I am not sure if there was one person I ever met in my life who had a bad word to say about him. That is the kind of mix you want in a coach.
“I know I’ve often spoken about this bond I felt that the group had. And he was the glue.”
McGuinness recalls how Pat devised for himself the role of ‘jester’ in the Donegal dressing room.
He wrote: “He was the person who, when he walked into a room, created the atmosphere. It was like a bright energy. You could feel it.
“He just brightened the room, whether it was before a big match or on those black nights at training in Ballybofey. He would have a line for everyone straight away.”
A few weeks before Pat’s passing, McGuinness – who is now based in Beijing, where he works with Beijing Sinobo Guoan – travelled back home to visit him in hospital.
McGuinness said: “There was so much learning in those couple of days for me. The humility that he showed all the way until the end. The courage he showed in facing this illness down.
“On the day I was heading back to Beijing, there was no acknowledgment that we wouldn’t see each other again.
“The attitude was: we both keep going. If there was a big goodbye it would have been a concession that the illness had won. So it was very hard walking out of the room and down that corridor that day and leaving him behind.”
Read the full column by Jim McGuinness hereTags: