Gary Coleman says new book about his father Eamonn Coleman reveals the truth about his sacking

Former Derry GAA star Gary Coleman speaks at the launch of a new book about his father Eamonn Coleman in Ballymaguigan, Co Derry, on Thursday. Picture by Danny O'Kane.
Connla Young

THE son of GAA legend Eamonn Coleman has said a new book about his father reveals "the truth" about his controversial sacking by Derry officials 24 years ago.

Gary Coleman was speaking after the book was launched at his home club on the shores of Lough Neagh on Thursday night.

The 59-year-old died after losing his battle with cancer in June 2007.

He guided the Oakleaf County to its first and only senior All-Ireland title in September 1993 – 25 years ago last Wednesday.

Hundreds of people packed into St Trea's GAA club in Ballymaguigan for the launch event, which was also attended by several members of Derry's victorious 1993 team.

Former Derry PRO Gerry Donnelly, a childhood friend of Mr Coleman, introduced the speakers which included winning captain Henry Downey, former Donegal manager Brian McEniff, former Down boss Pete McGrath and current Tyrone manager Mickey Harte - who between them have managed their counties to six All-Ireland titles.

‘The Boys of '93 – Derry's All-Ireland Kings' lifts the lid on the controversy that surrounded Derry's All-Ireland preparations and the sacking of the county's most successful ever manager less than a year after his historic victory.

The autobiography-come sports memoir is penned in Mr Coleman's own words from a series of interviews carried out by his niece and god-daughter, Belfast-based former journalist Maria McCourt.

Gary Coleman, who played in the '93 final, provides a raw account of how the row impacted on the playing squad at the time.

Speaking on Thursday night he said there was no doubt his father had been sacked.

“It has taken 24 years for the truth to come out and when you read the book you will see the truth, why he was sacked,” he said.

Mr Coleman said his father's sacking in 1994 hit the Derry team “very hard”.

He described the events at the time as “dark days for Derry football” adding that the actions of the then Derry County Board “ripped the heart out of that team”.

Mr Coleman said it was important for the truth come out.

“These are harsh words and some people may be hurt by them, but they are not meant to be, but the truth always has to come out and this story had to be told,” he said.

“And thankfully today things have changed and now daddy gets the respect I think he always should have got.”

All the proceeds raised from ‘The Boys of '93 - Derry's All-Ireland Kings' are being donated to cancer charities.

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