Saturday 18 November 2017

Player power a factor as McGrath leaves Fermanagh

Pete McGrath Photo: Sportsfile
Pete McGrath Photo: Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

On the weekend his native Down prepare to tackle Tyrone in the Ulster senior football final, news has emerged that Peter McGrath is stepping down as Fermanagh manager - and 'player power' looks to have had a hand in his departure.

That's despite a statement from Erne County officials earlier this month that McGrath, who guided Down to All-Ireland SFC titles in 1991 and 1994, would be staying on for a fifth year at the helm.

Reports from Fermanagh last night suggested that some players were opposed to McGrath's reappointment - and it's been suggested that correspondence was delivered to county board chairman Greg Kelly to that effect.

It is understood that the players met on Thursday evening and McGrath, who guided Fermanagh to an All-Ireland quarter-final appearance in 2015, was then informed of a rising tide of opposition to his return.

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has named an unchanged starting 15 for tomorrow's Ulster final clash with Down.

Captain Seán Cavanagh has been named at full-forward and, barring a draw, the provincial showpiece will mark his last provincial senior football game for the Red Hands.

Down have made one change in personnel from the team that started against Monaghan - with Joe Murphy listed to start ahead of Peter Turley. However, Turley, who was wearing number 18, replaced Murphy from the start in the Monaghan game, and a similar move could be on the cards.

Ahead of tomorrow's Leinster senior football final, Kildare have named an unchanged team for their clash with seven-in-a-row-chasing Dublin.

And as Armagh prepare for this evening's qualifier with Tipperary at Semple Stadium, Mark Shields has been called into their starting line-up.

Shields came on for Aaron McKay against Westmeath last weekend and earns a starting berth.

Tipp have handed a senior championship debut to Willie Connors, in a team that shows two changes in personnel.

Philip Austin, who made a big impact against Cavan last weekend, is in ahead of Liam Boland, while Connors starts ahead of Colm O'Shaughnessy.

Michael Quinlivan is named on the bench again as he continues to recover from an ankle injury – although there is some speculation that he might be sprung from the start.

Elsewhere, Monaghan have named an unchanged team for their visit to Carlow.

Meanwhile, the Gaelic Players Association has proposed some amendments to the senior hurling proposals put forward by the GAA.

Following consultation with players, the GPA want to see a six-team round-robin series in Leinster next year, which would see Meath earn a reprieve following their recent relegation to the Christy Ring Cup.

It’s also proposed that the ‘imbalance’ between the proposed Leinster and Munster round-robin groups be fixed by adding two teams from the provincial qualifier groups, to play the third-placed teams from the Leinster and Munster round-robin groups, thus providing an extra game for another county.

There’s also provision in the GPA plans for tweaks to the Christy Ring, Nicky Rackard and Lory Meagher competitions.

Armagh (SF v Tipperary) – B Hughes; J Morgan, C Vernon, M Shields; P Hughes, B Donaghy, A Forker; S Sheridan, N Grimley; C O’Hanlon, A Duffy, R Grugan; J Clarke, A Murnin, G McParland.
Tipperary – C Kenrick; W Connors, A Campbell, E Moloney; B Maher, R Kiely, J Feehan; L Casey, G Hannigan; J Keane, K O’Halloran, B Fox; C Sweeney, J Kennedy, P Austin.
Down (SF v Tyrone) – M Cunningham; N McParland, G McGovern, D O’Hagan; D O’Hanlon, C McGovern, C Mooney; K McKernan, N Donnelly; J Murphy, C Maginn, S Millar; J Johnston, C Harrison, R Johnston.
Tyrone - N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, P Hampsey, P Harte; C Cavanagh, C McCann; D Mulgrew, N Sludden, K McGeary; M Bradley, S Cavanagh, M Donnelly.
Kildare (SF v Dublin) – M Donnellan; M O’Grady, D Hyland, O Lyons; J Byrne, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, T Moolick; F Conway, N Kelly, D Slattery; P Brophy, D Flynn, C McNally.
Monaghan (SF v Carlow) – R Beggan; F Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; D Mone, C Walshe, K O’Connell; K Hughes, N McAdam; G Doogan, D Malone, S Carey; O Duffy, J McCarron, C McManus.

Irish Independent

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