O’Donnell was ‘upset and angry’
Frustration, anger and disillusionment were the prevailing emotions among club delegates who attended the first meeting of Roscommom County Board to be held following the resignation from the Roscommon senior management set-up of joint manager Fergal O’Donnell and selectors Stephen Bohan and David Casey.
The meeting, held on Monday night in Hannon’s Hotel, heard the views of delegates on the fall-out from the surprise resignations. The allegations that were made in the statement issued by the three men were also discussed in detail by the delegates. It was generally agreed that it had been a very bad week for the GAA in Roscommon.
County Board Chairman Seamus Sweeney told the meeting of the timeline of events that led to last week’s bombshell.
“We spoke with Kevin (McStay, the other joint manager) and Fergal the week after the match against Clare and we agreed that we would carry out a review. We issued the two managers with a questionnaire containing 13 questions about what happened during the year and we also sent a shorter questionnaire to the players.
“A total of 17 players out of 37 replied initially and after an intense follow-up that number was raised to 24. I have to say that the review was very balanced and an interesting exercise.
“On last Tuesday (6th of September) the management committee of the County Board representatives – myself (Seamus Sweeney) and Brian Carroll (County Board secretary) – met with Fergal O’Donnell and Kevin McStay and they both indicated that the joint management situation had not worked and was not going to work. In fact, I have to say that Fergal O’Donnell was very agitated, upset and angry at that meeting, but he was adamant that he was going to step down along with David Casey and Stephen Bohan.”
Seamus Sweeney revealed that Mr. McStay and Mr. O’Donnell had met before that meeting and had come to the decision that the joint manager situation was not working.
“When that happened we had no option but to allow the clubs to decide on a new management for 2017. We agreed to a joint manager arrangement in 2016 and now that was broken up we have to go back to the clubs for their approval,” he said.
“Our arrangement with Fergal and Kevin was for three years with an option on a fourth and it is very sad that it did not work out. But Fergal was adamant that he was stepping down and he told us that there was stuff going on that he was not happy about. He was very annoyed I have to say. It is very sad that it ended this way for someone who has given so much to Roscommon football,” Mr. Sweeney said.
Secretary Brian Carroll said that he wanted to emphasise that there was absolutely no issues between the players and any of the management team and that any arguments about the playing style of the team was not an issue.
“There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that any players were not prepared to play for Fergal O’Donnell,” he said.
A number of club representatives told the meeting that none of their players had any issue with Fergal O’Donnell or anyone else on the management team.
Many delegates praised the work and effort put into Roscommon football over the years by Fergal O’Donnell and there was general agreement that Roscommon football could ill-afford to lose people like Fergal O’Donnell, Stephen Bohan and David Casey in such circumstances.
There was much debate on the press statement issued by Fergal O’Donnell and his two selectors. “Given the allegations in the statement it is very hard to respond…unless we hear from Fergal who he is talking about,” said Seamus Sweeney.
Mary Clifford and Martin Purcell, both from Boyle, said that it was sad that a man (Fergal O’Donnell) who had given so much to Roscommon football was so annoyed and angry. “We have to find out why he felt as he did and who was at the back of it all,” said Mary Clifford, referring to Mr. O’Donnell’s claim that “a concerted effort” had been made to undermine him and the selectors who resigned with him.
Many delegates wanted clarity as to who Fergal O’Donnell had been referring to in his statement. The view was also expressed that the fact that the statement did not name anyone meant that there were many stories and much innuendo flying about – and people were being blamed that may not have been involved at all.
The meeting was told that the statement was issued to a local journalist at 1.40 am, which led to surprise being expressed that the media were aware of the statement before the County Board were. One delegate said of the statement “The only one who can clear up what is in the statement is Fergal O’Donnell.”
Connacht Council delegate Anthony Flaherty commented: “As far as I could see there were far too many people involved in the Roscommon team management this year. That needs to be reviewed.”
Chairman Seamus Sweeney said as far as he was aware Kevin McStay is interested in putting his name forward for the job as team manager in the new process and he also said that the sponsors had been spoken to and are supportive of the County Board.
All present agreed that the episode reflected poorly on Roscommon GAA. Frank Grehan of St. Aidan’s said that it was unfortunate that both men (O’Donnell and McStay) have been damaged by what has happened.
“The whole thing is sad. We have to be very careful what we are doing here because we could be back talking about the exact same thing again this time next year,” he said.
John Carty of St. Aidan’s and Michael Cleary of St. Faithleach’s both said that although the episode was a sad one for Roscommon GAA we had to move on quickly and try to put it behind us. “Let’s appoint a committee and get a management in place and we have to get back to training and playing football,” said John Carty.
It was proposed that a number of people from outside the county should be on the committee who would have the job of interviewing the candidates for the job. Mick Brehony of Roscommon Gaels disagreed, saying that there were plenty of good people in Roscommon GAA capable of doing that job, while the chairman, Seamus Sweeney, said that he would favour at least one person from outside the county on the committee.
Tributes were paid to the work done by Fergal O’Donnell, Kevin McStay and their selectors and back-up team in 2016.
Seamus Sweeney sought permission for the clubs to support the executive in their choice of a committee and that proposal and the 10-day nomination process was unanimously agreed.
Nominations close on Wednesday
Nominations for the vacant position of Roscommon senior football team manager have to be submitted to Roscommon County Board by 5 pm on next Wednesday, 21st of September.
This was unanimously agreed by clubs at a packed County Board meeting held in Hannon’s Hotel, Roscommon on Monday night. The Board executive had previously announced that an open nomination process would take effect.
A committee, which will be chosen by the Roscommom County Board executive, which will contain at least one person from outside the county, will interview the candidates when nominations close.
Outgoing joint manager Kevin McStay is the current favourite to be appointed, although there is no confirmation yet that he is certain to seek the role. Former Roscommon U-21 manager Nigel Dineen has put his hat into the ring and is believed to be mounting a strong campaign. Others may follow suit.
The nominations process began last week after the dramatic resignation of then joint manager Fergal O’Donnell and selectors Stephan Bohan and David Casey.