Sean Duffy has announced his shock decision to step down as county hurling manager.
Duffy had been in charge of the Erne hurlers as they have gone through a period of transition following their Lory Meagher Cup triumph in 2015.
This year saw the team turning something of a corner. Fermanagh ended a 673 day winless spell with a victory over Leitrim and went on a four game winning streak. They just missed out on a Division 3B final appearance and were denied a place in the Lory Meagher Cup final when a last gasp Gavin O’Hagan point for Leitrim tipped the score difference against them with three sides locked on four points at the top of the table.
That revival in form has given cause for optimism about what 2020 might hold. In addition the squad is being bolstered by the arrival into the fold of exciting new talents like Luca McCusker and Tom Keenan, as well as graduates from recent promising Lisbellaw minor teams.
In that context Duffy decision to step aside comes as something of a bolt from the blue.
In an exclusive statement to the Fermanagh Herald, Duffy has cited discontent with the way things have been handled since a review meeting with the Fermanagh County Executive last month.
“On Thursday, 12th September, we had our review meeting,” said Duffy. “We left the meeting happy that all was sorted and rang a few men to let them know.
“County Board said they had to run it by the Executive Committee on the Monday night. I now believe it did not come up at that meeting.
“On the following Wednesday, 17th September, Karl Kehoe rang me to say our Players’ Rep had rang him to say the County Board had interviewed men on the Tuesday night.
“I rang the County Secretary on Thursday morning who told me they had met men alright and that the county chairman would ring me.
“I never received a call from the Chairman. So by dinner time Friday Karl and I had a conversation and we knew I had no option, but to resign.
“I then received a text message from the chairman who thanked me for my service and told me he had a few calls from players who said they were not happy.
“I would like to know why he did not let me know of this before he interviewed other managers?
“This does not sit well with me. The reason I resigned was not because I did not have the backing of the players, but because the County Board interviewed men while I was still in post. It was clear I did not have the backing of the County Board.
“In a later text message I was told by the chairman that the men they interviewed were only for a plan B if I resigned. This seemed very rushed and hurried to me.
“This was handled very badly by the County Board. You would imagine there would be some protocol to follow from Croke Park if there was a bit of player unrest and I don’t think it would it would follow the course of the County Board’s Plan B.”
Duffy says he is aware that a small number of county panel members have issues. The Lisbellaw man says he was open to debate on any such matters, and if it meant he had to stand aside, then he would do whatever was in the best interests of Fermanagh hurling. But in the light of the County Executive conducting discussions with potential successors he felt he was left with no option but to resign and has already communicated his decision to the county squad.
“The rest of our squad could not understand why I resigned,” said Duffy.
“I believe quite a number of the them have contacted the County Board to tell them they could not play for managers who seemed to be ushered in what now in what might be called Plan C.
“Why did the County Board start interviews for new managers on the word of four men [the number of players Duffy believed had issues which his management] without having consulted the rest of the panel and myself.
“It seems odd to me that they had a full management team awaiting interview on the Tuesday night, five days after our review meeting on the previous Thursday.”
When contacted for comment on Duffy’s decision and circumstances surrounding his resignation the county board said they would be releasing a statement in due course.
With the next county board meeting due on Monday evening, it is expected a number of delegates will raise issues regarding the handling of the matter.
Posted: 7:56 pm October 4, 2019
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