GAA Football

Eamonn Coleman: I was sacked because board didn't like players having power

Former Derry manager Eamonn Coleman lifts the Sam Maguire Cup

THE late Eamonn Coleman says he was sacked by Derry county board to “make sure the [players’] uprising was trampled” in a forthright new book about his managerial career with his native county.

The legendary Oak Leaf manager guided the county to their only All-Ireland success in 1993 but was controversially sacked a year later after they lost their crown to a Down side that went on to win a second Sam Maguire in four years.

The memoir is written in Coleman’s own words from a series of interviews he conducted with author Maria McCourt, his god-daughter and a former journalist and editor, before his death from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in June 2007.

Eamonn Coleman, with his niece Maria McCourt, his sister Mary McCourt, aunt Eliza Bateson and nephew Martin McCourt in April 1994

In it, Coleman deals with his sacking and he recalls how “people that I trusted let me down and that affected me as a person.”

The Ballymaguigan native, who also won All-Ireland minor titles as both player (1965) and manager (1983), believed his sacking came about because members of the county board at the time were not happy with the players exerting power.

In an unforgiving account that is added to by a chapter in which his son Gary, who played on the team in ’93, recalls his own memories of that time, Eamonn Coleman said that the county board’s failure to publicly explain the decision left “a cloud of suspicion hanging over me and through that, over my family”.

Former Derry star Gary Coleman

“What I can never forgive though is the spineless way they went about it in their eagerness to take Derry’s glory. What they did was to leave a cloud of suspicion hanging over me and through that, over my family.

“The rumours were thick, not only in Derry but across the country. People that wouldn’t know me were thinking, ‘He must have done something terrible’, ‘There’s no smoke without fire’.

“Time and again I called on the county board to make public the charges against me, to lay it on the line why they sacked me and they never did. They refused because there were none and the only way they could disguise their actions was to direct the attention towards me. There was nothing else they could do.”

Read more:

The Boys of '93 - Derry's All-Ireland Kings by Eamonn Coleman and Maria McCourt is published this week

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