Off The Fence

"Pete, we hope you will know that the actions of a few do not represent the feelings of the many"

Pete McGrath, former Fermanagh boss and now in charge of Louth. Picture by Ann McManus

THEY say the only way to get over one relationship is to move on to another. Or at least I think that's what they might say. It's not like I read Vogue.

But sure we're down this road now so we might as well keep on it. Pete McGrath and Fermanagh looked like a successful marriage but the split has laid bare the fractions that had grown between them.

Both have moved on. Fermanagh have shacked up with Rory Gallagher, while McGrath has gone over the garden fence to Louth.

The wounds have not yet fully healed, and ‘A Fermanagh GAA family' have sent a compelling submission to Off the Fence in support of their ousted former boss.

“Dear Peter, we write to express what the vast majority of the GAA community in Fermanagh are at present feeling about the manner of your departure as GAA football manager of our county.

“Let's express our feelings simply. We are ashamed, we are disgusted and we wish to give you a heartfelt apology for what has happened.

“Peter, you are recognised as one of nature's gentlemen. You have won two All-Irelands with Down. We rejoiced when you accepted the managerial post in Fermanagh and you travelled all the way from Rostrevor two and three times a week, often in the most inclement weather, giving of your time and expertise on the windy, wet and cold slopes of Lissan.

“We are living in an era when part of the GAA managerial package almost invariably involves financial reward. Yet it is widely known that you made no demands, financial or otherwise, and did everything from the goodness of your heart for the benefit of the county and for your love of Gaelic football. Rest assured that in moving into the future the County Board will realise how much they should have valued these qualities.

“Your record of success marks you down as one of the great GAA managers. But here in Fermanagh it has become increasingly obvious that you were let down by a handful of people agitating from within the squad and a pusillanimous county board.

“But please do not feel hurt by what has happened, because the people of Fermanagh appreciate what you have done, your selflessness, dignity and expertise. We hope you will know that the actions of a few do not represent the feelings of the many. We thank you for your years with us and we wish you every happiness and success in the future. Fermanagh's loss is Louth's gain. Go n-eiri an bothair leat a Pheadair.”

CO'K: Pete McGrath is indeed the very essence of all that's good about the GAA. Also, pusillanimous is some word.

One of the week's big talking points, before Paul Hearty put a nail through the Diadoras, was Crossmaglen's exit from the club series at the hands of Maghery.

The final whistle in the Athletic Grounds was met with some fisticuffs, although the footage seemed to show a large number of those in the vicinity acting peacemaker rather than troublemaker. ‘Ulster Gael' had this to say:

“The unsavoury melee at the end of the Maghery v Crossmaglen match on Saturday evening marred what was a fantastic game of football. It's about time Crossmaglen supporters started showing a bit more respect to opposing fans, players and match officials.

“Within reason I can understand players tempers boiling over in the heat of battle on the pitch but when supporters get involved the danger there is a danger of everything getting badly out of control. Thankfully a few cool heads like Aaron Kernan and James Lavery settled matters down before it had the potential to get much worse.”

CO'K: As the wise man said to me upon viewing the footage, if you don't box afterwards did it even matter than much in the first place?

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Off The Fence