A new sports book from Curraghboy native, John Scally, 100 Great GAA Controversies, provides some compelling new insights into some of the biggest talking points in the history of the GAA. One of them is about the end of Dermot Earley’s career as Roscommon county manager.
‘Many an intercounty managerial career has ended abruptly. Results were disappointing during Dermot Earley’s two year tenure and a significant amount of Roscommon fans were vociferous in their criticism of his performance. Things came to a head with the defeat to John O’Mahony’s Leitrim by a point in the Connacht Championship in 1994. Although Leitrim went on to win only their second provincial title that year the rumblings of discontent among Roscommon fans grew to a crescendo.’
Jimmy Magee said to me
‘I couldn’t get over the treatment he got in certain quarters. Some of it was vicious and they couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. I remember thinking at the time: My God if they can do this to Dermot Earley what will they do to somebody else?’
Some weeks after the Leitrim game Dermot met up with two senior officials on the Roscommon County Board to review his stewardship of the team. As attention to detail was his mantra Dermot had prepared a detailed plan for the coming year. When he was asked at the start of the meeting what he thought about things Dermot launched into his plan with his customary enthusiasm but he quickly noticed that the two men did not seem to be really listening and were looking at each other rather than at him. He came to an abrupt halt and asked them bluntly: ‘Do you want me to resign?’
One replied: ‘Well, would you?’
Thus ended his managerial career with the county he loved so well.
Knowing about the meeting I rang him the next morning. It was not like a Roy Keane and Alex Ferguson situation after United let Keano go. There was no bitterness or rancour. Almost thirty years on his summary sentence, said not in anger but in a soft whisper of resignation, remains indelibly carved on my memory:
‘They wanted my head on a plate but they didn’t want my blood on their hands.’
100 Great GAA Controversies by John Scally is available in all good bookshops now.