“What I know to be happening and what you're hearing on the street are two different things"
DONEGAL manager Paddy Carr has been “encouraged” by the players' early response to the new setup, saying that only Michael Murphy of last year's panel has departed from what is “an open squad”.
Having added former Derry forward Paddy Bradley to a backroom team headed by Aidan O'Rourke, who coached Down last year, Carr has firmed up some of the background roles.
Michael McGeehin, who is Sport Ireland's Director of Coaching and has worked with various county teams down the years, will be “a big addition” in a logistical role, while LYIT's Vice President for Finance and Corporate Services, Henry McGarvey, will be in charge of player development.
It's understood that Dr Ken van Someren, a lecturer at LYIT with over 25 years' experience working with high-performing sportsmen and women across the globe, could also be in line for a role.
Highly-qualified duo McGeehin and van Someren were two of the three men on the committee that appointed Carr, alongside Mick McGrath, whose five-year term as county chairman ended last week.
Carr said that they were working with “an open squad” and that nobody other than Michael Murphy had been confirmed as unavailable from what had been there last year.
The new boss admitted the drawn-out process, which lasted 97 days after Declan Bonner's resignation, wasn't ideal but that the squad had reacted well to being brought “outside their comfort zone”.
“The lads are enjoying the freshness of it, new voice, new faces. That's always a bit challenging for people.
“Whenever there's change, people naturally are outside their comfort zone - that's where the growth is. That's where things happen.
“The feedback we're getting from a number of meetings with the squad – it's an open squad at the moment – has all been very encouraging.
“We're really looking forward to getting to the other side of Christmas and getting into it. When you come in as a new management there's questions asked of you, naturally enough, in and around the squad.
“At this stage, I'm pretty much looking forward to talking about what's going on out on the field and the games themselves as opposed to everything that goes on around that.
“We were involved in the process for quite a while, obviously from the point of view of getting up and running at an earlier stage.
“That would have been much more convenient because it was one of the last inter-county appointments.
“In terms of hitting the ground running, particularly getting the kind of expertise in a backroom team, there's nobody at the top of their job that's sitting at home on their hands.
“People had to take some time and see if they could juggle commitments they had and even stepping out of other commitments to come on board, and that's happened now.”
Michael Murphy insisted last week that his decision to announce his retirement just days after Carr's appointment had “zero to do” with the new management, and that he wasn't able to “give Paddy Carr what was required this year.”
The rumour mill has hopped around the future of other players, but Carr said that “what I know to be happening and what you're hearing on the street are two different things.”
Carr says he was aware of Murphy's decision-making process throughout and that while he “certainly doesn't owe anyone anything, the effect of that announcement has very much galvanised the squad,” added the Fanad native.
“There is a dynamic there, and it's been self-evident for the last decade the type of quality Michael brings to Donegal football, on and off the field.
“The response to that from the lads themselves has been hugely encouraging. They want Michael's legacy to be that high standard. It's certainly encouraging to see lads there that want to be there and step up. One leader goes, other leaders want to move forward.
“Michael set standards and those standards are the ones we want to bounce on forward with as well.
“There's a lot of very good things happening in Michael's life. You have to respect the man.
“Only he, and he alone, knows what is right for him and ultimately what's right for Donegal. He certainly doesn't owe anyone anything.
“I'm very well aware the Donegal GAA public at the moment are waiting in anticipation to see what the post Michael Murphy era is like. We're doing everything in our power to ensure that they'll be enthused by what they see.”