Thursday night’s meeting of the Donegal county committee has opened the door for Karl Lacey to return as head of the county’s football academy. The 2012 All-Ireland medallist and FOTY had resigned from the position in February, citing a lack of support from the county board.
In a statement, Donegal GAA emphasised that they would like Lacey, a lecturer in ATU Letterkenny, to consider resuming his position.
“We wish to state 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.”
In the wake of Lacey’s resignation, the academy coaching and support team followed en masse, saying that they had “lost all confidence in governance of Donegal GAA.”
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The county GAA “reluctantly” accepted the resignations after mediation attempts had failed.
Thursday night’s meeting was called specifically to review the effective collapse of the academy and the sense of crisis was sharpened on Wednesday by the resignation of senior county manager Paddy Carr before Donegal’s league season had even finished.
Although the meeting had been convened partly in response to Cahair O’Kane’s devastating report on the matter two weeks ago in the ‘The Irish News,’ it was decided that no media would be in attendance.
The statement issued on Friday morning is conciliatory in tone, praising the innovation brought to his role by Lacey, thanking him for his work and condemning rumours of financial irregularities.
It also announced that a pathway for the academy had been agreed. In full it reads:
“In what has been a difficult period for CLG Dhún na nGall and the Donegal GAA Academy, and following a specially convened meeting of County Committee on Thursday, March 23rd, we would like to inform our clubs and supporters that we have agreed on a pathway forward for the Donegal GAA Academy.
“We would hope that we will lay the foundations for a progressive future, for the Donegal underage development structures. As has been widely acknowledged in recent months by many in Donegal GAA circles, our academy has been one of the most innovative in terms of coaching and athletic development in Ireland.
“At this point we as a county committee wish to thank the academy and in particular, former Head of Academy, Karl Lacey for the outstanding progress that the academy has made to date. We wish to clearly state that there is no suggestion of any misconduct relating to Karl or academy personnel. We also most strongly caution against and condemn any such suggestion. All finances and governance of the academy have always been the sole responsibility of the county committee.
“We look forward to working through the recent issues with our academy personnel and building on the great work achieved until this point. We once again thank Karl Lacey for his outstanding and exemplary efforts to date, as a strong role model for all that is good in our games.
“We wish to state 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.
“We acknowledge this has been a difficult time for all concerned. The GAA in Donegal should be a place where excellence is the standard and that we all play our part in ensuring this happens.”