Donegal: a family at war
Donegal football's internal strife deepened yesterday as Declan Bonner and Charlie Mulgrew pressed ahead with their efforts to prolong the managerial mess by filing for a DRA judgment on the process that has led to John Joe Doherty's appointment.
Bonner stressed that a move for a DRA hearing on the protracted Donegal managerial appointment process was not an attempt to reclaim the job from Doherty, but a challenge to how their old colleague got there.
Doherty was ratified by Donegal's County Board on Monday night by just 27 votes to 19 to bring some closure to a prolonged and bloody saga that has essentially ripped apart the county's only All-Ireland winning team and caused division beyond anyone's expectations.
As Donegal weighed up the effects of a damaging 'civil war' Bonner and Charlie Mulgrew, who had come together on a joint ticket and were offered the position at one stage in the process, filed for a DRA hearing and expected to have word by the weekend on where it will take them.
Quite what the cost of the last few weeks will be remains to be seen as the bonds between the 1992 team have split at the seams.
the Board's main officers face into a convention where their futures are far from guaranteed and the current playing squad has been left disillusioned about the internal bickering which doesn't bode well for 2009.
Kevin Cassidy and Karl Lacey, who has since departed to Australia and won't be available next year, have been most vocal in their criticism.
Worse still have been the soundbytes from the '92 brigade, particularly Mulgrew, who doesn't wish Doherty to be considered a former team-mate any more.
The '92 manager Brian McEniff has also been brought into the mix with Doherty's suggestion that he favoured the Bonner/Mulgrew ticket. McEniff has been left perplexed by such an inference.
Some in the county find it risible that Donegal has delved so deep into internal wrangling over the management of a team that has failed miserably to build on its 2007 league success over the last two seasons.
Against that landscape, Doherty is now challenged with attempting to bring all the strands together, a healing process that can't be easy.
Bonner conceded yesterday that he and Mulgrew won't be managing Donegal in 2009, nor, he said, do they want to anymore.
But he insisted they were taking the legal route available to them to expose the failing of the County Board executive who presided over such an unseemly mess for the last two months.
Bonner and Mulgrew have been taking legal advice from an Omagh-based firm of solicitors and are confident that the GAA's independent arbitration arm can give them a hearing.
They remain unrepentant about their relentless criticism of the Board officers and believe the process of appointing managers should have independent influence in the future.
"I've said from the outset that this whole process is flawed. I said it last year when Brian McIver was re-appointed.
"I felt there were good men going forward for a job that essentially wasn't there because once Brian (McIver) let it be known that he was available again after stepping down it was a 'done deal', " he said yesterday.
Bonner stated they were taking the action open to them because they feel Donegal County Board officers will not be held accountable for what has gone on over the last number of weeks.
"We're doing this (taking a case to the DRA) because we want to clear our names. We feel our names have been blackened by this process. We feel the process has been flawed all along."
Bonner said the move to seek arbitration should not be construed as a challenge to Doherty who has Tony Boyle and Tommy Ryan from the '92 squad as his selectors.
Nor did Bonner think that those who opposed his ratification on Monday night were necessarily voting against his old Donegal colleague's credentials.
"I would feel they were voting against the Board officers and their handling of all of this," he said.
"From our point of view, we acknowledge that John Joe is manager. There is no vendetta against him on our behalf. We're not challenging that. And, in any case, we wouldn't want to be involved after all that has happened.
"What concerns us though is the way this whole business has been handled. We want to know why the process wasn't started all over again and why a new committee wasn't convened to oversee it."
Bonner spoke at Monday night's meeting as a delegate of Na Rossa club and called for a vote of 'no confidence' in the top table.
It was ruled out of order by the chairman and Bonner is at a loss to know why.
Mulgrew also spoke at the meeting and accused Doherty of "dragging our names through the mud" when he spoke at the previous Board meeting.
It is not clear if it is within the remit of the DRA to examine the Donegal case, but if they do examine it and rule that the process was not fair, it would throw the county into even deeper turmoil than it already is in.
Meanwhile, St Eunan's Ulster club championship hopes have been dealt a huge blow with the news that Brendan Devenney has been hospitalised with a punctured lung.
Devenney punctured the lung when he sustained a rib injury near the end of the first half last Sunday week, when the Letterkenny side defeated Clonoe of Tyrone by 2-10 to 1-8.
Although shaken by the incident, he played on until the end of the game.
He accounted for four points of his side's total and was involved in the move that led to the deciding goal in the second half.
Conall Dunne was upended for a penalty and Kieran Sharkey hit the vital score.
St Eunan's were minus Devenney last year -- when he was suffering from stomach pains that blighted his whole season -- as they exited the Ulster club championship against Cavan Gaels.
"Our main priority is to ensure that Brendan's health improves and he gets back to full fitness," said manager Eamon O'Boyle.
The Donegal county champions are due to play the winners of Sunday's clash between Crossmaglen and Fermanagh champions St Patrick's from Donagh.