THE Down County Board has released a detailed statement to their clubs hitting back at recent press coverage of the their senior footballers.
After losing their 14th League and Championship game in a row against Clare two weeks ago, the Mourne county squad and management came in for intense analysis in many national and local outlets.
However, in an unusual move, a lengthy narrative was emailed to clubs today out-lining their frustration with the reporting of events.
“Over these past two weeks, our players and senior football team manager, the county officers and Down GAA as a whole have been subjected to some vile and unfair commentary and misrepresentation on radio, in printed media and on social media,” it read.
“We have no interest in engaging in an ongoing battle of words through the media. However, we have taken a decision to share our thoughts and the facts with the clubs of the county, as we are all club members who are working hard for the benefit of the Association in Down.
“In the aftermath of the defeat to Clare in the Allianz League, some within the media reported that a number of players had walked away from the county panel in the build-up to the game and that a number of players would not be attending training after the defeat. The facts however do not support this. From an original panel of 38 players, three have left the panel in the January/February period.
“(i) Ryan Mallon left the panel on Saturday, 21 January as he felt he was unable to commit to the county team due to his studies. He met with Eamonn Burns and the situation was accepted amicably.
“(ii) Gary McMahon decided to leave a week later as he felt that his match time with the team would be limited. Again, the discussion and decision were amicable, as Gary offered to help out at any stage if either of the two other goalkeepers were to become unavailable.
“(iii) The only other player to leave the panel was Damian Turley. Any reference to others leaving the panel is inaccurate.
“(iiii) The players are working hard and they have been strengthened by the recent return of Niall McParland for teaching practice. The management retain the right to add to the panel at any stage in the future. Their focus is on the next game.
“It was also reported by some in the media that there had been a row/argument at half time in Clare between the team manager and a county official (as the official on duty, the County Secretary was the only officer in contact with the management at half time). This is entirely inaccurate.
“At half time the County Secretary asked the team management if there were any interval changes planned, as the paperwork could be provided to the referee in advance of the second half. This was the extent of the conversation that took place.
“There were players who did not return home with the team from Clare, but that issue was dealt with and settled by team management at training on the Tuesday night after the game.
“On Wednesday last, a former county player took part in a radio discussion on Newstalk along with a journalist from the Irish News.
“That broadcast and the various parts of the discussion have circulated widely since. People are entitled to their opinions. However, the thrust of the discussion aimed to malign and ridicule the county board, the county officers and others and to cast us in an unfavourable light. Some claims and assertions went unchallenged by the presenters, who merely helped to engage in an entirely negative conversation.
“Our players, managers, county officers, the members of our various committees, the members of the county committee and all who give so much of their time to develop Gaelic Games in this county should not be subjected to the type of commentary engaged in by the contributors to this broadcast.
“As with GAA members across the county, so many of us spend time away from our families and have always been willing to take on the many thankless tasks to bring our county forward. It is too easy to criticise and demean, and so often those who engage in this are less willing to put their shoulder to the wheel.
“We have also had a journalist concoct a ‘non-story’ relating to our county GAA Twitter account, which turned out to be a misrepresentation. Social media and online discussion boards have also become the forums of choice for some who would prefer to deride, insult and direct abuse.
“But we don’t wish to get bogged down in this any longer. We all have our jobs to do, and while some people can and will do as has been outlined above, it is our clubs and our members who matter most. We simply wanted to set the record straight and move on with our work.”
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