Thursday 19 April 2018

Only 'true heroes' escape lash in Fermanagh

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

ONLY those players who stayed on to play under manager John O'Neill have escaped without blame from the review of Fermanagh football's turbulent year.

A wide-ranging review committee, chaired by former Armagh captain Jarlath Burns, has found that the board, the ex-manager (O'Neill has since stepped down) and the players who defected from his squad last season all played a part.

"A small, but very determined group of people set themselves totally against the appointment of the manager and decided to do all they could to thwart the progress of the county's GAA fortunes in 2011," the report said, without naming them.

"Those involved need to examine their consciences and ask themselves if their actions were serving the cause of the GAA in their county or feeding selfish preconceptions," it added.

But the report also said O'Neill bore some responsibility, saying he was at fault for not holding pre-season trials.

It also criticised the board for the team's medical and training facilities, which should have been better, and said the board didn't deal properly with the publicity that ensued when when it emerged that 11 players had left O'Neill's panel.

The review described those who remained on the squad last year as "true heroes" and praised former All Star full-back Barry Owens for "leading his men with dignity and diplomacy through an extremely difficult time."

The review committee, which also included county chairman Peter Carty, secretary Tom Boyle and treasurer Hugh Crudden, has recommended that those players who refused to play this season should return next year with a clean slate.

There has been speculation that Fermanagh have sounded out ex-Tyrone star Peter Canavan to take over, but Cathal Corey has emerged as the early favourite to succeed O'Neill.

Irish Independent

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