THE Kildare football panel have called on the Kildare County Board to overturn their decision to axe Kieran McGeeney after six years in charge of the Lilywhites.
The players held a meeting last night after the county board voted by 29 votes to 28 to end McGeeney's tenure in charge.
The meeting went on into the early hours of this morning and the players this evening released a statement outlining their "extreme frustration" with the decision.
"Following a long meeting last night, the Kildare Senior Football Panel wishes to express its extreme frustration and disappointment at the sacking of our manager Kieran McGeeney on Tuesday night, ending a 6 year term that brought Kildare from rank outsiders to a consistent top 8 team in the country," the statement read.
"The players feel that our County Board has let us down greatly throughout this process and our manager has been treated with a complete lack of respect and loyalty following his six years at the helm. Kieran’s reputation was frequently impugned at times by comments made over the past few weeks.
"We believe that the County Board Management Committee should have used the powers available to them to reappoint Kieran McGeeney as senior football team manager for 2014 in accordance with their own wishes and those of the players. In not doing so they abdicated their responsibility and must accept much of the blame for the situation that the county now finds itself in.
"Our ultimate wish is that last Tuesday night’s decision is overturned and that negotiations are immediately opened with Kieran McGeeney to reinstate him and his management team for 2014. Tuesday’s decision and the process followed has left us angered and we will be submitting our recommendations to the County Board in the next two weeks on how this process should be structured in the future. We expect a fair consultation process will be conducted with all parties. We don’t believe that this is unprecedented nor do we think it is unreasonable."
McGeeney lost his job as the Kildare on Tuesday evening after a vote of club delegates by 29 to 28.
The Irish Independent flagged last week that there was growing discontent among clubs in the county at McGeeney's performance in recent years and that his future with the Lilywhites was in doubt.
The likes of Darragh ó Sé and Kevin McStay are already being touted as possible replacements.
Since taking over at Kildare in 2008, the Lilywhites made it to five All-Ireland quarter finals and were desperately unlucky to be beaten by Down in an All-Ireland semi-final in 2010.
A heavy defeat to Cork in 2012 was followed up by a 16- point drubbing at the hands of Dublin in this season's Leinster semi-final and an early exit from the Championship in the third round of the qualifiers in Newbridge.
The statement also criticised the County Board for not acting in the interest of Kildare football.
"The current County Board has been shown up to be dysfunctional and lacking in both leadership and unity," it said.
"While the clubs are the heartbeat of the GAA and we do not wish to disrespect them or the people who work tirelessly within them, we do not feel that all club delegates voted in the best interest of the Kildare Senior Football Team, but based their decision on what served their clubs or personal agendas best. They were not in a position to decide what was best for us the players representing Kildare.
"Again we would like to reiterate the wonderful job Kieran McGeeney has done as our manager for the past six years. His loyalty and belief in us as players has to be acknowledged and commended. Not only did he support us in our efforts on the pitch, he was an ever present adviser when assistance was needed off the field.
"He brought an unprecedented level of professionalism to our set-up from the first day he met with us. He put in place the structures that were required to allow us to perform at the highest level, fundraising tirelessly for the squad set-up in the process. He carefully appointed all of his backroom team to ensure that his desire to succeed in a professional environment was matched by theirs. His training and coaching was of the highest calibre and there is undoubtedly no manager in the game who thinks more about it than he does. He transformed us from also-rans to challengers on a yearly basis.
"We feel we must publicly acknowledge the huge contribution that Kieran and his wonderful management team has made including Julie Davis, Jason Ryan, Damien Hendy, Morgan O’Callaghan, Hugh Campbell, Danny Mulvihill, David Lyons, Tomas O’Connell, Helen Fitzpatrick, Niamh Connolly, Dwain McGuinness, Mick O’Toole, Robert Carroll, Johnny Bradley, Tom Murphy and Danno Keely."