Tuesday 14 August 2018

Donegal ‘spy’ is revealed as close friend of McGuinness

The trees in the grounds of St Finan’s Hospital which overlook Fitzgerald Stadium where the Kerry team were training and (inset) Patrick Roarty
The trees in the grounds of St Finan’s Hospital which overlook Fitzgerald Stadium where the Kerry team were training and (inset) Patrick Roarty

Majella O’Sullivan and Greg Harkin

THE man at the centre of ‘spying’ allegations against the Kerry football team is top civil servant Patrick Roarty.

Kerry-based Mr Roarty (43) is from Donegal manager Jim McGuinness’s home town of Glenties and the pair played together for the local club, Naomh Conaill.

As the spying controversy continued in the run-up to tomorrow’s All-Ireland final, there were counter-allegations last night from the Donegal camp that unknown people were recording their training sessions before speeding off when challenged.

Friends of Mr Roarty’s said he and the Donegal manager had attended each other’s weddings.

Attempts to contact Mr Roarty were unsuccessful, but friends in Kerry were shocked to hear of what he had got up to on Tuesday night, when it is understood he climbed a palm tree on the grounds of the now vacant St Finan’s Hospital in Killarney  to observe the closed training session of the Kerry squad in the adjacent Fitzgerald Park.

Mr Roarty, a married father of three who lives in Kilcummin, is also a  member of the Killarney Musical Society.

Mr Roarty is heavily involved in the Donegal Association in Kerry, where he doubles as chief entertainer and is a well-known guitar player.

Asked what he thought of Mr Roarty, former Donegal player John Gildea, who played with him at Naomh Conaill, said: “Patrick is a great fella, a really decent and lovely lad.” Asked what he thought Roarty was doing up a tree, Mr Gildea said: “Sure, it’s September. He was probably just looking for apples.”

Mr Roarty was rumbled when a member of the back room team confronted him. He ran off, but dropped a card on the ground that revealed his identity. The Kerry County Board confirmed it was aware of the incident.

A friend described him as a “lovely fella”, very involved in his adopted community.

Meanwhile, sources in the Donegal camp said they believe their training sessions were “observed” at least four times. Each time people with camcorders drove off when challenged.

Asked about those alleged incidents, Mr Gildea insisted: “Maybe they were looking for apples, too.

“The good thing about the (Donegal GAA) centre of excellence in Convoy is that there isn’t a tree for three miles around the place. It’s not fertile ground for apples.”

Another former school pal insisted: “Patrick played midfield for Naomh Conaill, but he wouldn’t have been a county player or involved in coaching. I reckon he was there for a nosey and on a solo run rather than any spying operation.”

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