The Sporting Diary: Donegal manager outcome still a big decision

The Sporting Diary: Donegal manager outcome still a big decision

Donegal manager conclusion still a big decision

With two withdrawals (Gary McDaid and Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney) the field is down to three in the race to become the next Donegal manager.

Interviews are being held this week with the candidates. With just three left in the race it is likely that all three will have been interviewed by Saturday and even at this stage it is possible that we might have a candidate for the job put before next Monday night’s Donegal Co. Committee meeting for ratification.

Who is doing the interviews? We don’t know officially, because the Donegal Co. Board chose to keep the names a secret. But not for long as someone decided to leak them to the national press the next day!

Just why did they not just issue a press release saying x, y and z were on the committee? Did they really believe that all members of the Executive who attended the meeting that made the selection would keep their mouths zipped? A bit naive, don’t you think!

Also I feel it is a huge disservice to the local media, who go out day after day, night after night covering Gaelic games.

Even this week when Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney withdrew his name, news of the withdrawal came from outside the county first. What was there to fear from Donegal issuing a statement, as they belatedly did, saying that Seamus had withdrawn?

Thankfully, we still have three in the race and now the speculation surrounds who is in the backroom team of each candidate. At the end of the day, that is almost as important as the manager. It will take a management team to take on the task that lies ahead for Donegal, developing a group of young players to improve themselves to a level that makes the county competitive again. The bar has been set high by previous Donegal players and also by other counties.

But there is no doubting that there is talent in Donegal that, with the correct nurturing, can compete with the top ranking teams.

Lacey’s legacy

The retirement of Karl Lacey was not a major surprise, but like many other players, it is only when he is not there that we will really appreciate what he has given Donegal over the last couple of decades at underage and senior level.

A supreme athlete, he was for years Donegal’s go-to man when the opposition danger man had to be man-marked. Then Jim McGuinness came in and gave him a new freedom to operate from centre half-back. He was a tower of strength at corner-back but showed that he was the complete player with the No. 6 on his back. His ability to dispossess an opponent was an art that few players have in their armoury. The quickness of his hands in the tackle will remain with me as one his greatest traits. He could pickpocket the ball as if he possessed some magic wand.

How many times did he pop up in the right place to take a point or set up a vital score? His pass for Michael Murphy’s goal in the All-Ireland final was classic Lacey, inch perfect in most things that he did.

He will be always classed as Donegal's finest defender.

But what is almost equally important, the Four Masters man looks set to be involved in developing the next generation of Donegal footballers. His expertise in strength and conditioning is being passed on at underage level. Indeed, if rumours are true, then Lacey is sought after by the candidates seeking the vacant Donegal manager post.

Whatever about the future, we must be forever thankful to Karl Lacey for what he has already given to Donegal. Four All-Stars, Footballer of the Year, three Ulsters, one National League - the list of honours is impressive - and fully deserved.

More gold bound for Mountcharles

Last weekend in South Africa Katie-George Dunlevy gained further honour for herself, Ireland, Donegal and Mountcharles. After winning gold and silver at the Rio Olympics, the Paracyclist went one better at the Para-Cycle World Road Championships in South Africa, winning double gold with her partner Eve McChrystal.

The Dunlevy family will, no doubt, return to Mountcharles in the near future, the home place of her father, John, to show off the latest gold won by Katie-George, the fruits of four years of hard work.

Well done Katie-George.