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Dublin: 3 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Deliberate 'culture of negativity' destroyed Fermanagh's season

The committee appointed to review John O’Neill’s turbulent season as Fermanagh manager has slammed a small group for deliberately undermining him.

Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Russell Pritchard

A REPORT INTO the Fermanagh senior footballers’ dismal season has slammed a “small but determined” group for deliberately sabotaging the county’s season.

A review committee, commissioned by the county board to investigate a campaign dogged by in-fighting and controversy, found that an unnamed faction had set out to systematically undermine manager John O’Neill and his backroom team.

The report was also highly critical of O’Neill, who resigned last week after just one year in the job, and the Fermanagh county board.

However, the majority of the blame had to rest with the small group who deliberately created a “culture of negativity” because of their opposition to O’Neill and his backroom team, it said.

In March, four players walked away from the inter-county set-up after a disappointing start to the league campaign in Division 4. With the support of team captain Barry Owens and the rest of the dressing room, O’Neill remained on only to preside over a shock Championship exit against London in the qualifiers.

This group, the report said, “left no room for manoeuvre within the management team with every teething problem, defeat, defection being pounced upon as indicative of their not being fit for purpose”.

Those involved need to examine their consciences and ask themselves if their actions were serving the GAA in their country, or feeding selfish preconceptions which they themselves held.

O’Neill was criticised for not holding trials before selecting his squad at the start of the season, while the report also found that the county board lacked “corporate responsibility” throughout the mess.

It is understood that the contents of the report were made known to O’Neill early last week and sealed his decision to walk away. The county board thanked him and his backroom team “for their work with the county panel throughout what was a difficult year for gaelic football in Fermanagh.”

A committee will now be appointed to recruit the new manager, they confirmed.

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Niall Kelly

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