GAA Football

Croke Park to conduct independent review into Donegal Academy controversy

CROKE Park are to hold an independent review into the controversy surrounding Donegal’s Academy, the county’s clubs were told last night.

Donegal chairman Fergus McGee yesterday met with GAA director-general Tom Ryan, president Larry McCarthy and Ulster GAA chairman Ciaran McLaughlin, in which it was agreed to run an independent process looking specifically at the Academy and what led to Karl Lacey’s highly-publicised resignation.

In what was a heated meeting that lasted almost four hours in Convoy, The Irish News understands that clubs were told that it would be ‘a forensic examination’.

While there calls in the room for the review to be extended to take in governance issues for the whole county, no agreement was made.

It was agreed that an approach would be made to Lacey to ask him to return to his role as head of the Academy.

Lacey resigned earlier this year after a breakdown in communication with members of the executive, leading to all of the football development squad coaches subsequently walking away.

Donegal had planned to publish an advertisement for a new part-time head of the Academy today but that will now be delayed.

They are also in the process of appointing a new manager for their U16 development squad, who have resumed training. No significant progress has been made on the U14 or U15 teams.

Clubs had pushed for a three-man committee to be formed that would go and meet with Lacey, but no agreement was reached on that.

Instead a statement was released early this morning saying that the county committee had “agreed on a pathway forward for the Donegal GAA Academy”.

It added that it “is the express wish of our County Committee that Karl and the coaches would return and we are working hard and are hopeful that they will reconsider their positions.”

It was also revealed that Paddy Carr stepped down as Donegal senior manager after three senior players met with him and told him the group had lost confidence in him.

Carr became football’s second managerial casualty of the season, following Limerick’s Ray Dempsey, when he stepped down on Wednesday afternoon after Donegal were effectively relegated from Division One.

Delegates were told that Carr had met with captain Patrick McBrearty and senior squad members Hugh McFadden and Eoghan Bán Gallagher in Monaghan on Tuesday night.

The players informed him of the squad’s loss of confidence and Carr agreed to step down.

Aidan O’Rourke agreed the following day that he and Paddy Bradley would take charge for the rest of this week and their final league game against Roscommon on Sunday.

O’Rourke will meet with county officials again on Monday to discuss what will happen for the remainder of the season.

With approval given by clubs last night to follow through on plans to take a training camp to Carton House ahead of championship, it appears likely that O’Rourke will remain in charge for the summer.

The unusual step of naming the three players publically may be seen by some to echo Jim McGuinness’ recent comments in relation to being named as having been spoken to as part of the confidential process to find a manager.

GAA Football