Back In The Day - Down secretary Donal McCormack resigns - The Irish News June 26, 1999

It is understood then-Down manager Pete McGrath requested his players not be asked to fulfil club duties before the Ulster semi-final. Pic Philip Walsh.

DONAL McCormack has resigned as secretary of the Down activities committee following a disagreement over senior inter-county footballers’ availability to their clubs.

It is understood following last Sunday’s Ulster Championship victory over Antrim, Down boss Pete McGrath requested his players not be asked to fulfil club duties before the semi-final clash with Fermanagh or Tyrone on July 11.

An emergency meeting of the Down county board was called on Wednesday night to discuss the ‘starring’ of games. All yesterday’s league games received that treatment.

According to the Down GAA handbook, senior and minor county football panelists do not have to participate in games which are sanctioned as starred by the county board.

Although some county officials were in favour of backing the Down management’s request, McCormack was against the move and handed in a letter of resignation to the meeting.

The Warrenpoint man will, however, remain as assistant secretary to the county board.

Last night McCormack confirmed that he had stepped down from the activities committee, a decision “relating to games and county players.”

However, he indicated that his absence might only be temporary: “You could say I’m on a sabbatical...I’d not say the matter cannot be resolved, I hope it can be resolved.

“I don’t feel the door is totally closed, if certain things are put in position, but there is obviously a difference of opinion within the county board.”

Irish soccer: Dessie in doubt as Newry delay

NEWRY Town player-manager John McDonnell delays naming his side until noon today as he attempts to overcome Croatian opposition in the InterToto Cup.

The only real doubt surrounds star striker Dessie Gorman who injured a hamstring in the 1-0 defeat away to Hravatski Dragovoljac last Saturday and has done little training this week.

Defender Tony Scappaticci is also suffering from a groin problem but McDonnell is more confident that he will be fit.

If Gorman does make it he can be assured of company up front after his lone role in the Balkans.

“We’ll have extra personnel up front, in fact we’ll show a different formation, players, and positions”, promised McDonnell.

Pressure and pace will be the watchwords for Newry today. “Under pressure they looked suspect and the keeper was uncomfortable dealing with back passes.

“We have more pace up front than them in John Kenny and Mark Rutherford so we’ll try to get round the back.”

The home boss knows the first goal will be crucial: “We have to go at them, we can’t afford to sit back, but without losing our shape. “Them not getting the second goal out there was a bit of a result, it’s given us a chance.

“It’s gonna be a great day, our first time in Europe, and we hope to qualify for the next stage. It’s wonderful to be involved in such a competition and it’s also great for the club financially.”

The only black spot was the continued rumours about the future of chairman Joe Rice, leading McDonnell to comment: “It’ll upset Joe and it’s upset me and the players. We really did not want to see that sort of thing.

“If there were big problems the players would not be around, this whole InterToto situation would not have happened, and we would not have got a good result in Croatia.”

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