Donegal GAA chiefs want Karl Lacey back as head of its Academy

Former Donegal Academy Head Karl Lacey

Frank Roche

Donegal county board chiefs have reiterated their hope that Karl Lacey and his team of coaches will resume their involvement with the county’s GAA Academy.

A statement issued this morning by Donegal GAA, following a specially convened county committee meeting to discuss the ongoing Academy crisis, is notable for its uniformly positive message about Lacey’s previous work as Head of Academy Development.

The 2012 Footballer of the Year stepped away from his position in early February, with a host of coaches subsequently standing down in support of Lacey.

But the impasse, coupled with critical media coverage of the affair, heaped pressure on a county board hierarchy which has found itself further embattled by a separate development this week – the resignation of senior football boss Paddy Carr after just six league games.

Last night’s meeting of club delegates in Convoy had already been called in advance of Carr’s departure, and there are reports this morning that a delegation will now approach Lacey about returning to his old position.

The meeting was held without media present, and Donegal GAA issued the following statement this morning: “In what has been a difficult period for CLG Dhún na nGall and the Donegal GAA Academy, and following a specially convened meeting of County Committee on Thursday March 23rd, we would like to inform our clubs and supporters that we have agreed on a pathway forward for the Donegal GAA Academy.

“We would hope that we will lay the foundations for a progressive future, for the Donegal underage development structures.

“As has been widely acknowledged in recent months by many in Donegal GAA circles, our academy has been one of the most innovative in terms of coaching and athletic development in Ireland.

“At this point we as a county committee wish to thank the academy, and in particular former Head of Academy Karl Lacey, for the outstanding progress that the academy has made to date.

“We wish to clearly state that there is no suggestion of any misconduct relating to Karl or academy personnel. We also most strongly caution against and condemn any such suggestion. All finances and governance of the academy have always been the sole responsibility of the county committee.

“We look forward to working through the recent issues with our academy personnel and building on the great work achieved until this point. We once again thank Karl Lacey for his outstanding and exemplary efforts to date, as a strong role model for all that is good in our games.

“We wish to state it is the express wish of our county committee that Karl and the coaches would return and we are working hard and are hopeful that they will reconsider their positions.

“We acknowledge this has been a difficult time for all concerned. The GAA in Donegal should be a place where excellence is the standard and that we all play our part in ensuring this happens,” the statement concludes.