The Donegal County Board last night confirmed manager Jim McGuinness’s intention is “to make changes” to his backroom team - a move that sees assistant manager Rory Gallagher and two other members leave the set-up.
Video analyst Maxi Curran, kit man Francie Friel and assistant manager Gallagher will not be involved in the Donegal set-up 2014 according to a statement released last night.
The statement read: “CLG Dhún na nGall were informed this (Tuesday) 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.”
It was unclear yesterday if McGuinness removed the trio from their roles, or if they made their respective decisions themselves for personal reasons. However, the statement indicates the change was McGuinness’s call.
His continuation as manager was confirmed on Saturday evening by the county board and he will take charge of Donegal for a fourth year following a meeting, primarily over fixtures and player availability, with the clubs of the county, who in turn voted in a proposal to postpone next year’s senior and intermediate championships.
An agreement was reached in regards the postponement until Donegal’s run in the Ulster and All-Ireland series is completed and was accepted by the clubs on a vote of 20 to six.
McGuinness then spoke publicly on the reappointment on Sunday, in the company of his backroom staff members in Ballybofey, about the need to regroup following Donegal’s 4-17 to 1-10 All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo in August.
“We are happy with where we’re at,” McGuinness said. “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.”
In three years in charge of Donegal, McGuinness won Ulster titles in 2011 and 2012 as well as last year’s All-Ireland championship.
Gallagher took the position of assistant manager in January 2011 on the recommendation of the outgoing Peter McGinley, who worked as McGuinness’s number two with the Donegal panel that reached the All-Ireland U21 final in 2010. A native of Belleek, Gallagher will unquestionably be linked to the managerial vacancy in his native Fermanagh, who parted ways with Peter Canavan earlier this month. Gallagher, who lives in Killybegs, is a former student at IT Sligo, and may also be mentioned as a possible successor to Kevin Walsh with Sligo.
Curran was also part of that set-up in 2010 and is current manager of the Donegal U21s, who reached the Ulster final last year before losing to Cavan in Enniskillen. It is unclear whether he will continue in that position.
Friel joined the backroom team at the beginning of this year. The other main backroom team member, goalkeeping coach Pat Shovelin, will remain as part of the set-up for 2014.