Rory Gallagher has insisted that severe personal criticism of him on social media didn’t influence his decision to resign as Donegal manager, despite claims to the contrary by former star Brendan Devenney.
Gallagher quit after three years in the role on Monday night and the decision came as a surprise given that he was just one year into a fresh four-year deal that he’d agreed in late 2016.
The announcement followed criticism of the Fermanagh man on social media and formal complaints were made by Donegal GAA to Facebook who, according to local reports, subsequently blocked and suspended a number of accounts.
Donegal crashed out of the Championship with a four-goal mauling by Galway last Saturday week, a result that followed their heavy defeat to Tyrone in Ulster.
Devenney told Highland Radio yesterday he believed Gallagher’s decision to quit was partly down to the over the top reaction of supporters.
“There’s been a lot of abuse and I think that’s probably led to his departure, the abuse he’s been getting,” said Devenney.
But Gallagher insisted in a statement released last night through the county board that social media ‘has no impact on my life or my decision to step away from the senior team’.
Gallagher expanded on the point in an interview with 2FM. He said that those criticising him probably weren’t the supporters who actually attended games though generally downplayed the issue.
“I might lead a very blinkered life but I am not on social media,” said Gallagher. “I have no interest in it whatsoever. I don’t see the attraction of it. I’ve never been involved in IT and I have never been on Facebook in my life, I have not got a Twitter account.
“You do hear stuff, would you like it not to happen? Absolutely. But it doesn’t impinge on the way I think about sport or life whatsoever. It is disappointing that it happened but that’s the way it goes. Social media is part of it now, there’s so much talk about it. It’s not something that interests me and I can’t see it in the near future interesting me either.”
Gallagher, who was Jim McGuinness’ right hand man when Donegal won the All-Ireland in 2012, is based in Killybegs and runs a supermarket.
“I meet a lot of Donegal supporters, I meet them every day of my life, in my working life, but I’ve never encountered too much trouble,” said the former Fermanagh and Cavan forward. “It would perhaps lead you to believe that some of what goes on on social media mightn’t just be the supporters that are at games, you know.”
Former Donegal manager Declan Bonner is the favourite to return to the position having managed a number of the current players to Ulster minor and U-21 titles in 2014 and 2017.
Devenney suggested that whoever is contacted about the job may wonder what they are letting themselves in for.
“Looking at the abuse he has got, it’s really made it (a hard sell), like, why would you want to take that job?” said Devenney.
Gallagher lost several All-Ireland winners after the 2016 season and there are question marks now over the futures of players like Frank McGlynn, Karl Lacey, Neil McGee and Paddy McGrath.
“In 2012, we had a team that were at their absolute peak and it was a relatively old team that won an All-Ireland,” said Gallagher. “Over the course of the last few years we’ve lost a large amount of them, I’m not sure of the exact numbers.
“We’ve also got a number of players who continued to play on and are slightly past their peak and knew the end was coming. We were going in this year and we said we were going to work really, really hard. We had a very young squad.
“The league (going well) probably surprised us to be honest. Then we went into the Championship with a wee bit of renewed hope but we were well beaten by Tyrone and ultimately well beaten by Galway. That’s never easy but if we had been beaten narrowly it would have been the same decision now.”
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