Shock in Donegal as county board confirm departure of three of backroom team

Rory Gallagher, Maxi Curran and Francie Friel leave Jim McGuinness’s side

Donegal selector Rory Gallagher (left)  is one of the three to depart from Donegal’s management team. Photograph: Inpho

Donegal selector Rory Gallagher (left) is one of the three to depart from Donegal’s management team. Photograph: Inpho


Donegal football was still in a state of uncertainty last night, coming to terms with the departure of three members of Jim McGuinness’s management team. A late statement from the county board confirmed what had taken place without shedding a great deal of light on the reasons why:

“CLG Dhún na nGall were informed this morning by senior football team manager, Jim McGuinness of his intention to make changes in his management and support team. He subsequently confirmed that Rory Gallagher and Maxi Curran will not be involved in the Donegal management team for the 2014 season.

“Francie Friel, who was involved in the backroom team, will also not be involved in 2014. CLG Dhún na nGall wish to acknowledge the immense contribution made by Rory, Maxi and Francie to our success over recent years, and wish them well in the future.”

Assistant manager Gallagher, video analyst Curran and Friel had made it known yesterday that they wouldn’t be maintaining their involvement with the 2012 All-Ireland champions, who were well beaten in this year’s quarter-final by Mayo.

These developments took place just days after McGuinness had confirmed with county chair Seán Dunnion that he would be staying on for a fourth year in charge.

Last Sunday McGuinness attended the county championship fixture between Glencar and Glenswilly in Ballybofey and spoke to the media afterwards:

“We are happy with where we’re at. We will look at everything in the next number of weeks. We’ve had a very good analysis since the Mayo game in terms of medical and in terms of team and of what happened in relation to the amount of sessions we did, how many training sessions each player was able to deliver on. We have a very good handle on that now, which is great.”

Afterwards he spoke with his management team and it is accepted that whatever took place there led to yesterday’s announcements. None of those involved were commenting on the situation.

Gallagher, the former Fermanagh and Cavan player, was brought in by McGuinness on his appointment as manager for the 2011 season. He was considered very close to McGuinness and highly rated for his ability to analyse the game.

He was, however, involved in controversy before last month’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo, accusing their opponents of colluding with the Monaghan team that surprised them in this year’s Ulster final and claiming that Mayo manager James Horan’s interviews were scripted by sports pyschologist and journalist Kieran Shannon.

There has been speculation associating Gallagher with the vacant manager’s positions in Sligo and his native Fermanagh.

Curran was a selector with McGuinness for the 2010 Donegal under-21s who reached the All-Ireland final only to lose narrowly to Dublin. Friel was introduced for the 2013 season.

Meanwhile former Waterford hurlers Stephen Frampton and James Murray have accepted the invitation to join a six-man sub-committee to find a successor to senior manager Michael Ryan, who stepped down after a vote of no confidence from the county panel. They will be joined by four county officers, the chairman, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer.

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