Players threaten early retirement at appointment of new county manager

County board opts for Monaghan man Hackett to replace O’Flatharta

After a disappointing 2009 season and the resignation of Tomas O’Flatharta, much surprise has been expressed at the appointment of Brendan Hackett as the new manager of the Westmeath senior football team.

Although there had been much speculation that football stalwart within the county Dessie Dolan Snr would be handed the job, Hackett was given the honour this week. After the resignation of Westmeath man Tomas O’Flatharta, the county board decided to look outside of the county for a new senior football manager.

According to a statement by the Westmeath County Board, “ It was considered important that the successful candidate should be involved in the development of all potential inter-county players including U21 and senior grades. This role should also encompass coaching and games development throughout the county and should integrate with club development.

“The interview board included appointed officers of the county board and Football Board of Westmeath GAA together with an independent observer with a background in management.”

Unfortuntely there has been much surprise and unrest in the team since the appointment, with some senior players suggesting they might take early retirement in protest against the board’s choice of manager. The surprise stems from the fact that Hackett, although well respected in athletics and sports psychology circles, has not distinguished himself in GAA management to date. Prior to his role as head of Athletics Ireland, he has managed both Offaly and Longford and acted as adviser to Monaghan but with limited success. He also played a role with the Irish International Rules team that travelled to Australia back in 1990.

Speaking to the Advertiser after the appointment of Hackett, one county player confirmed there was indeed talk of early retirement among five or six players. “We’re all concentrating on upcoming matches at the moment but players will be meeting to discuss the appointment.Defiiate concern has been expressed over the pedigree of our new manager and his selection could very well be a catalyst for some to retire early.”

A further bone of contention at the appointment is that despite Dessie Dolan Snr being nominated by the clubs as a potential candidate, he was never even interviewed. The advice from the county board to the selection committee was that they should look outside the county for candidates. Whether or not Dessie Snr was the right man for the job is a matter of opinion, but, the fact that his name was proposed by one or more clubs, and given his managerial record, at the very least an interview was surely warranted.

The Advertiser tried to speak to a member of the Westmeath County Board yesterday regarding the possible early retirement of senior players and unrest in the camp, however they declined to comment.

Hackett is due to be revealed to the press in Croke Park on Sunday, and as yet has not met with the sqaud.

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