Friday 23 March 2018

Donegal rocked as key back-room trio depart in shake-up by McGuinness

Jim McGuinness has seen a number of his background team step down
Jim McGuinness has seen a number of his background team step down
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Donegal football has been rocked by a split in the management team that delivered the All-Ireland title in such impressive fashion last year.

Rory Gallagher is one of three members of the back-room team who have departed with immediate effect. Maxi Curran and Francie Friel, who only joined the set-up this year, have also left. Curran is the outgoing U-21 manager.

A statement from the Donegal county board late last night indicated that the sweeping move was the decision of manager Jim McGuinness alone.

“CLG Dhún na nGall were informed this morning by senior football team manager Jim McGuinness of his intention to make changes in his management and support team. He subsequently confirmed that Rory Gallagher and Maxi Curran will not be involved in the Donegal management team for the 2014 season.

“Francie Friel, who was involved in the backroom team, will also not be involved in 2014.

"CLG Dhún na nGall wish to acknowledge the immense contribution made by Rory, Maxi and Francie to our success over recent years, and wish them well in the future.”

Gallagher had been assistant to manager McGuinness since he took over in 2010 and is known to have made a significant contribution to Donegal's tactical approach over the three years.

Neither Gallagher nor McGuinness were contactable last night.

McGuinness confirmed he was staying on as manager for another term over the weekend when he met with Donegal chairman Sean Dunnion, days after Donegal clubs voted 20-6 to suspend their 2014 club championship until after the inter-county team's interest in the championship had ended.

The outgoing senior management are understood to have met on Sunday evening, when the plans for 2014 were discussed.

There had been no indications that Gallagher was departing.

He was immersed in controversy prior to the All-Ireland quarter-final over comments made in a newspaper interview about Mayo. Gallagher is understood to have thought the conversation he had was off the record.

He is sure to attract interest from other counties who have vacancies, including his native Fermanagh.

He has been helping out with a club in Longford, but Sligo are also seeking a manager and are geographically more accessible to Gallagher, who is now based in Killybegs in west Donegal.

Elsewhere, past players Stephen Frampton and James Murray have been added to a six-man committee to find the next Waterford senior hurling manager.

A county board meeting on Monday night laid out the framework for appointing the next manager after the Deise squad made it known that they would not be in favour of Michael Ryan continuing for a third year.

Ryan has since indicated that he may be interested in putting himself forward again after messages of support, but a return is unlikely at this stage.

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