GAA Football

Players must have the right to remove a manager says Ó Fearghail

GAA president Aogan Ó Fearghail with Ard Stiurthoir Paraic Duffy. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail says that players must have the right to remove a manager from their position and denied the GPA's increasing power was behind.

The subject of player power has been a hot topic this week following the resignation of Pete McGrath as Fermanagh manager.

After considering his future in the wake of their Championship exit to Armagh, the former Down boss had been reinstated by the county board for a fifth year, which would have been the second of his latest three-year term.

But a wave of player unrest surfaced following the county board's decision to reappoint McGrath, with team captain Eoin Donnelly relaying to the manager a series of complaints in a telephone call.

The management then met with players and county officials, at which the players made clear that “most of the panel would not be committing if the same management was in place”.

McGrath left the meeting at that point to bring an inglorious end to what had threatened to be a great marriage in the early days, not least in reaching an All-Ireland quarter-final in 2015.

While saying that he had a degree of personal sympathy for the ousted manager, president Ó Fearghail suggested that the GAA would not attempt to stem such acts in future.

“I am always disappointed when things like that happen. It happens in clubs when you lose your dressing room you are in difficulty.

“We are a voluntary organisation and there is a right for a player and for a manager to be there or not to be there, but I do feel for Pete on a personal level.”

The Fermanagh players were able to call the meeting annually under the terms of the GPA's players' charter, which they hadn't done in any of McGrath's first three years in charge.

Ó Fearghail says that he does not believe the GPA's influence is behind this kind of manoeuvre from players.

“I don't [believe that]. Young players are more educated than maybe players were in the past; they are more articulate so there are always going to be rumblings.

“I don't think it is GPA-driven at all. It is simply a reflection of where we are at. I don't think it is driven from outside at all, in most cases these are dynamics which occur within dressing rooms.

“The process has to work at a local level. It works in most cases and sometimes it breaks down. It is regrettable when it does. It is unfortunate for Peter and I do feel sorry for him.”

The All-Ireland football Championship will introduce a round-robin quarter-final system next year for the start of a three-year trial and the Cavan native, who is in the final year of his presidency before being replaced by Dublin's John Horan, doesn't envisage any opposition to its permanent introduction when the trial is over.

“I don't know that but personally I don't expect that. I think the system will work very well and most people who were wondering about it are already beginning to see that this is a positive development.”

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