County Board look to Breen & Dugdale in wake of shock Moran departure

Leitrim GAA officials are to talk with selectors Brian Breen & George Dugdale to see if they would be interested in taking over the County Senior Football team in the wake of the dramatic news that Mickey Moran was stepping down as manager for health reasons.

Leitrim GAA officials are to talk with selectors Brian Breen & George Dugdale to see if they would be interested in taking over the County Senior Football team in the wake of the dramatic news that Mickey Moran was stepping down as manager for health reasons.

Breen and Dugdale, both members of Leitrim’s historic 1994 Connacht Championship winning team, are to continue as interim managers until County Board officials discuss with the two men if they would be interested in taking over the job as joint managers for the remainder of the year.

Moran, starting his fourth year with the Green & Gold, had already drawn up a panel for the 2012 Allianz League campaign and out-lined training plans but players and officials were stunned when the Derry man informed County Board officials last week that he would be unable to continue in the post due to illness.

County Board Chariman Joe Flynn informed the Senior team panel and Board Executive on Saturday evening of Moran’s resignation, the Board later issuing a statement that stunned supporters around the county.

With speculation already turning to who would succeed, Joe told the Observer on Tuesday that “There is not really an urgency to appoint a new manager straight-away as Mickey had established a six week training programme. George & Barney are supervising the individual training programmes as there is no collective training at the moment and have agreed to continue to do that.

“Obviously, we will talk to them over the coming weeks and ask them what they want to do, if they might want to bring someone else in to work with but we will chat to them when they have had to the time to think about it.”

And the County Board Chairman revealed that players had already lobbied for the two selectors to continue in the job - “I’m sure that the players will want them to continue, I know some representations have already been made by the players to George & Barney. Hopefully, both will continue for the year but we need to meet them.”

The Derry man had been unveiled to great fanfare as joint manager with John Morrison in August 2008, the Armagh man continuing his long collaboration with Moran for two seasons before Mickey took over as sole manager in 2011. And after a fantastic victory over Sligo in last Summer’s Championship, Moran was ratified for a fourth year and was already making plans before the shock announcement.

The news that Moran was stepping down was, according to Joe Flynn, “a complete surprise”, adding “To hear that he is to undergo surgery is a complete surprise. He had missed one or two meetings and he thought he was having some medication problems but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as he was diagnosed with some heart problems.”

Indeed, Joe said that Mickey’s decision to stand down was typical of the Derry man’s honesty and commitment - “It took a while for the penny to drop with me when he told me the news but Mickey has be ordered to take a complete rest for three to four months. He is an honest and upright man and Mickey does it 100% or he does not do it at all.”

Paying tribute to Mickey, Joe said “In the last four years, I have gotten to know Mickey very well and what stands out is his total commitment to the job and the time he devotes to it. The players have respected him and so do the supporters.

“He has encountered huge problems during his time in Leitrim, having to rebuild the team several times due to forced emigration but Mickey was always a practical man and he would work with what he had.

“In meetings with the players over the last few weeks, Mickey laid down his ambitions for 2012 as a good run in the championship, even if we have been handed a tough draw with trips to London and Castlebar.

“He will be missed for his positive attitude and from his wide experience of coaching with so many counties, he was able to identify trends and changes in the game. He was also very good at man-management and while there are always going to be problems in squads, Mickey was excellent in motivating players.

“The victory over Sligo was a big step forward and I know he was guttted with the way Leitrim performed against Roscommon. He found it very difficult to understand what happened, it was one of his greatest disappointments in his time with Leitrim.

“Mickey is going to be a big loss to Leitrim and on behalf of all Leitrim GAA, I want to wish him a speedy recovery and I know that we will see him sitting in Castlebar next June when we take on Mayo,” concluded Joe.

The staff of the Leitrim Observer would ike to wish Mickey Moran a speedy recovery and thank him for his courtesy and co-operation at all times over the past four years.