Thursday 29 June 2017

Donegal manager Rory Gallagher hits back over Jim McGuinness 'inaccuracies'

In happier times – Rory Gallagher celebrates with Jim McGuiness after Donegal’s Ulster SFC final victory in 2011
In happier times – Rory Gallagher celebrates with Jim McGuiness after Donegal’s Ulster SFC final victory in 2011
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Donegal football manager Rory Gallagher says he is "comfortable in the knowledge" that officers of the county board are "aware of the true circumstances" behind his departure from the senior management team in September 2013.

Gallagher was responding to Jim McGuinness' recall of the events surrounding the break up of Donegal's All-Ireland winning management team in his recently-published autobiography Until Victory Always.

McGuinness contends in the book that he let both Gallagher and Maxi Curran go from the management team some weeks after the heavy All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Mayo.

However Gallagher, who had never publicly spoken about his departure, has expressed "disappointment" and appears to have a much different version of events to McGuinness with his contention that there are "inaccuracies" in the book's account of what happened.

Understanding

Because he is still Donegal manager Gallagher said he is not interested in making any comment, recalling, in a statement released to the Irish Independent last night that "the players, management and backroom team had a very clear understanding that what happened within the group remained within the group."

In 2011 Kevin Cassidy was released from the squad because the detail he revealed about the season in the book This Is Our Year contravened a confidentiality agreement adhered to by everyone involved.

"I have received many requests for my reaction to the description given by Jim McGuinness in his book with regard to my departure in September 2013," said Gallagher in his statement.

"At this point, I am not interested in commenting on the inaccuracies in the book while involved with the Donegal senior team. I am comfortable in the knowledge that Donegal County Board officers are aware of the true circumstances of my departure. 

"I will say I am disappointed Jim has chosen to comment on the break-up of the management team at this point."

Gallagher added that he hadn't commented on his departure at the time "as this would have been unfair on the players and the new management team whose focus was on the year ahead".

"I am really looking forward to the new season working with a brilliant squad of players who have given Donegal so much," he added.

In the book McGuinness confirmed that he and Gallagher hadn't spoken since the split and that the division between them became "permanent" on the day that it became official.

According to McGuinness' account, he had decided that if the 2011-13 management team were to continue, he would assume "full control".

"There would be no more lengthy debates or joint decisions," he wrote.

McGuinness says that Gallagher was "hesitant about that proposal" and asked for time to think about it. He says he "knew in his heart" after that that he would be making changes and recalls ringing chairman Sean Dunnion up to inform him that he was letting Gallagher and Curran go.

He then rang Gallagher and Curran and recalls the conversations being "short."

The statement which the Donegal County Board released at the time was cloaked in ambiguity.

It detailed that McGuinness would be making changes and that Gallagher and Curran would not be involved in 2014. There was no clarity, however, as to whether they had left or had been released by the manager.

McGuinness recalls wanting "to draft a statement explaining that I was making changes to the back-room team without revealing that the boys had been dropped from the set-up".

He writes: "But while I was at home composing it , reports were circulating that both Rory and Maxi had quit. It made it seem as if everything was falling apart."

McGuinness says he asked the board to release a statement "confirming that I had made the decision but by then it was too late. What should have remained a private meeting had generated into a public event. It was a farcical and sad way to end three years working together."

McGuinness says in the book that he felt his relationship with Gallagher had become "more fractious" in 2013.

In the first two years he revealed how they would discuss tactics and players for hours on the phone.

"Both of our opinions counted and sometimes I would end up shifting my viewpoint and sometimes he would. We would always reach a resolution that we were happy with," he says.

"But over this season (2013) I felt our conversations were becoming more fractious. It was as if he had made his mind up on things and wasn't going to change, no matter what."

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