Roscommon unable to negotiate ‘behind scenes’ influences as Dineen drops out

Kevin McStay is set to be the unchallenged 2017 Roscommon senior football manager

Roscommon's decision to bring in former labour relations negotiator Kieran Mulvey to chair their selection committee for a new senior football manager has failed to ease tensions within the county.

Former Roscommon full-forward and Under-21 manager Nigel Dineen has withdrawn his nomination for the post, which became available after joint-manager Fergal O'Donnell walked away last month. Dineen's withdrawal means that Kevin McStay, who worked alongside O'Donnell last term, is now the only candidate for the job.

Dineen is the third coach in the past 14 months to withdraw their services from the county citing behind-the-scenes influences. He walks away due to “strong reservations” about the selection and recruitment process.

In August of last year John Evans stepped down as team manager claiming that there had been an "active canvass" in the county to remove and replace him.

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“I don’t know how it started or where it started but there were a lot of rumblings going on that we could be doing a lot better,” he told RTE upon leaving his post.

“There was an active canvass then to remove John Evans and that’s the way it went. I know that two or three of the people involved had sons that I didn’t bring onto the team or bring onto the panel.”

Then 12 months later last season’s joint-manager Fergal O’Donnell also stepped down. He said at the time that “a concerted effort has been made (outside of management and players) to undermine and disparage us and it is especially disappointing and damaging that those involved purport to be concerned about the promotion of GAA within the county.”

O’Donnell and Kevin McStay were appointed on a joint ticket last September and handed a three-year term by the county board in an extremely popular appointment. Yet despite qualifying for the semi-finals of Division One of the league, championship defeats to Galway and Clare led to unrest in certain quarters of the county once more.

McStay’s confirmation as Roscommon senior football manager for the 2017 season now appears a forgone conclusion after Dineen’s withdrawal.

Former head of Workplace Relations Commission Kieran Mulvey (a Roscommon native) was part of a selection committee made up of former players Paul Hickey and Marty McDermott, county secretary Brian Carroll and county chairman Seamus Sweeney. The committee was to select between Dineen and McStay, and put one management team before the clubs for ratification.

Dineen, who led Roscommon to All-Ireland Under-21 finals in 2012 and 2014, has now expressed his disappointment with this selection process.

Dineen had called upon the services of former All Star Francie Grehan along with three other former Roscommon players to help make up his proposed management team.

“While I have gathered what I consider to be one of the best management teams that the county has ever seen, which includes four former county Roscommon players, of the highest calibre, who know what it’s like to wear the jersey and all share the same passion for Roscommon football as I do, I do not consider that this is the appropriate time to proceed on this journey,” he said in a statement released to the Roscommon Herald.

It’s now expected that McStay will go before the clubs to be ratified as the new Roscommon senior manager - with hopes high that given the reins alone he may now replicate his success with St Brigid’s at county level.

Evans, O’Donnell, and Dineen all hope he can do so free from the scrutiny of these behind-the-scenes influences.

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue

Eamon Donoghue is a sports journalist with The Irish Times