Tuesday 13 November 2018

Donoghue and Lynskey reveal what they got in 'poison pen' letters

Galway manager Micheál Donoghue. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Galway manager Micheál Donoghue. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Galway senior and minor hurling managers Micheál Donoghue and Jeffrey Lynskey are the latest inter-county bosses to confirm they have received 'poison pen' letters.

The pair joined former Mayo football manager James Horan, recently-resigned Kerry supremo Eamonn Fitzmaurice and Limerick hurling chief John Kiely in revealing they have been the subject of personal abuse, with Lynskey stating that he came close to involving the Gardai after a Galway board official was verbally attacked by a man after Lynskey made a cut from his squad.

"Some of the stories I have are funny, some of them are less so. Members of the board, officials would have been attacked, and that was only about six weeks ago.

"Verbally attacked over stuff that I would have done regarding panels and not picking lads. And you're thinking, 'Right, is this the time now to go to the guards with it to protect myself?'" 

Lynskey agrees that a certain amount of criticism is to be expected, particularly when dealing with the hopes of young players and their parents.

"(I have received) letters. I'm not on social media, I have a Twitter account but I use it for getting results and stuff, articles, the usual stuff," he explained.

"What tends to happen with us is when we pick the panel, there's a huge attention drawn when someone makes a Galway minor. There's a status to it. The family name goes up… 'My son is a Galway minor'

"There's a term there, I don't know what article it was in last week, it's called 'FOMO' - fear of missing out. Or a 'helicoptor parent' or the 'lawnmower parent'. So, they will contact the county chairman, the bishop, the priest, local councillors, TDs; all that stuff that I've had for the last four years. 

"Funny enough now, if I'd a letter now I wouldn't read it…

"There's other stuff, parents not coming to functions after All-Irelands are won because their kids didn't make the 26.

"The big thing is to have the name in the programme and the picture. That's huge for some parents. Understandable enough - for some of them it's the be all and end all. But I'm trying educate them that this is only a step on the road.  

"Some of them will listen to you, they've no issue, they'll absorb it. You would have parents ringing you the night before a match, at 10 o'clock, wondering 'how come he's not on the 24, why is he not on the team?'

"You have to handle that very, very carefully and keep control, because ultimately what will happen is, like the rest of us, you're going to have an issue with the kid the following day when you see him, going 'Your dad is ringing me.'

"But I don't do that. You don't kill the kitten because of what the cat has done. So, you just have to be careful.

"This type of stuff, does it concern me? The incident a couple of weeks ago did because of the vitriol that was there and the angst that was there and the toxicity of it. So I said to myself, 'Right, if I hear another thing here I'm going to move on this.'" 

Donoghue steered the Tribesmen's senior hurlers to their first Liam MacCarthy cup in 29 years in 2017 but he also revealed he has received letters to his house. And he believes some of it comes from a lack of a basic understanding of the commitments players are making to play the inter-county game.

"I think every manager will experience it. When you're looking from the outside he (Eamonn Fitzmaurice) seems to have gotten a fair doing down there. We're in a world in society now where some things are acceptable and people just go with it.

"Ye boys (the media) are well experienced, are around a lot and can see the effort, commitment and sacrifices lads have to make. Sometimes the general public won't comprehend that. The amount of time that goes into it, it's the same as any profession."

And he revealed that, over time, he has developed an ability to ignore the criticism.

"You'd want a thicker skin alright. I don't even open some of them now to be honest with you. Straight into the bin.

"You can recognise some of the handwriting. It's regular - 'Oh that's Pat again!"

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Irish Independent

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