Campaign by ‘two or three’ fathers of players

John Evans has made fierce criticism of events leading up to the end of his tenure as Roscommon senior football manager during a controversial radio interview.

In the interview, on the RTE Radio ‘Game On’ programme on Tuesday night, Mr Evans claimed that there was a campaign against him by “two or three fathers who thought that their sons should have been on the team and who thought they were better footballers than they were.”

Mr. Evans, who announced last week that he would not be going forward for another term after it became clear that there was some opposition to his re-appointment, claimed that there had been an orchestrated campaign against him.

“There were a few people who actively canvassed the clubs not to re-instate me” he alleged. The ex-manager alleged that Seamus Sweeney, the vice-chairman of the County Board, had campaigned against his re-instatement and that he (Sweeney) did not have confidence in his management.

Evans said: “The Chairman must be your right-hand man and the vice-chairman (Seamus Sweeney) didn’t have any confidence in me and if he was going to be the new chairman (i.e. succeed Michael Fahey at Convention) then it would not work.

“There were going to be three or four new officials on the incoming executive and it would not have been an ideal situation so I hadn’t the belly to go on to be honest” he told RTE.

John Evans said that he had the 100% support of the players and that they were upset to see him leave.

“All the players bought into what we were doing to a man. Our style of football was improving. Our scoring rate was well up from 1-10 and 1-11 to 1-18 and 1-20 and 0-24, etc.

“Confidence was growing in the squad and obviously people wanted up to progress faster. People are not giving these young lads a chance to mature. I still don’t think they will mature for another two or three years in fact” he said.

John Evans said that he had received a massive reaction from the players to his departure. “I have pages and pages of texts here from the lads. It makes me sad reading them but I will always have those to look back on. We had a great three years and I got very close to them (the players).”

During the interview the Kerry man wasn’t probed about his championship record, which included defeats against Sligo and Fermanagh this season – or about the departure of two of his selectors, Basil Mannion and Gay Sheeran.

The presenter of the programme, Hugh Cahill, and studio guest former Mayo player Conor Mortimer, were also strongly critical of those in Roscommon GAA who, by their opposition to his re-appointment, effectively signalled the end of John Evans’ term as Roscommon manager.

No one was asked for an alternative view although one text was read out after the interview supporting the decision of John Evans not to go forward again.

Speaking to The Roscommon People on Wednesday, Seamus Sweeney, the vice-chairman of Roscommon County Board, who was mentioned by John Evans in his interview, did not wish to be drawn into responding to the former manager’s allegations.

However Mr. Sweeney had this to say: “It’s now time to move on. The executive now have a very important job to do. My energy and that of the executive will be focussed on finding the best person to manage our very talented group of players.”