ANTRIM camogie appears to be in turmoil after the shock announcement at Sunday’s county convention that the senior management team of the past two years, headed by Elaine Dowds, has been replaced by intermediate team managers Brian Kearney and Mark McFadden.
The county board made the announcement public on their social media channels later on Sunday evening and it immediately generated comments from both players and supporters alike, most of whom have been expressing support for Dowds.
Maeve Kelly posted on Facebook: “Gutted at yesterday’s decision. Dowdsy is the BEST manager that I have ever worked with.
“What she has done for me and many others, both on and off the pitch, is inspirational Thank you.”
A former inter-county player, Dowds has been involved at senior level since 2020 and was part of the management team with Paul McKillen and Jim McKernan that won the 2021 All-Ireland intermediate title.
When McKillen and McKernan stepped down after that success, Dowds indicated her wish to remain in situ and she formed a new management team that included, among others, Shane Elliott and Joe Passmore, with McFadden and Kearney also on board.
In 2022 Antrim’s senior side dethroned Down in the Ulster senior final and subsequently reached the All-Ireland quarter-final, while the second team, managed by Kearney and McFadden, won the All-Ireland junior title in its first year, before winning the Ulster intermediate title this season.
After the inter-county season ended in July, Dowds stated that she wanted to remain in charge of the team.
Nevertheless the county executive advertised all the management posts from U14 through to senior, carried out interviews and presented their findings to convention on Sunday.
It had been stated that the new management team would involve former inter-county hurlers Johnny Campbell and Neil McManus, but by Monday evening an e-mail was issued by county secretary Dearbhail Kelly stating that was “a misunderstanding”
It is understood that there were two meetings via zoom on Monday evening, one a players’ meeting and the other a county executive meeting. Yesterday, county board chairman Liam Vallely said:
“Our secretary Dearbhail Kelly has been in contact with county team captain Lucia McNaughton late on Tuesday evening offering to meet player representatives to discuss their concerns as soon as possible after Loughgiel’s involvement in the All-Ireland club championship.”
As of Sunday evening’s meeting, there has been no-one appointed to take charge of the second team that will begin their league campaign at the start of February.