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Antrim anger at shock exit of Frank Dawson

By John Campbell

Antrim officials have been left fuming by the manner of football manager Frank Dawson's resignation yesterday.

Chairman Jim Murray revealed last night the first inkling he had that something was amiss was when the county development officer contacted him from England to inform him that Dawson's exit was highlighted on a social networking site.

And PRO Brendan Mulgrew admitted that he was left "in shock" when he received a text message confirming the manager's departure.

Murray, who championed Dawson's cause when he sought ratification for another term in office, said he was "angry and disgusted" by what had happened.

"I was at the county final on Saturday in Ahoghill where I presented the trophy and Frank was there. He never mentioned anything to me then and he must surely have known what was in his mind," rapped Murray.

"I had backed Frank for another year in the job and even though his re-appointment was not unanimous, we were happy to go forward – as we thought – under his baton.

"Then this happens and we are left in a very awkward situation. I must say I am angry and disgusted by this turn of events."

PRO Mulgrew disclosed that even up until lately meetings had been taking place with Dawson at which everything appeared positive.

"His resignation was a real shock to the system," said Mulgrew.

"Our chairman who initiated the ratification process did not receive the courtesy of a telephone call. I would have thought that he deserved this at the very least given the manner in which he had supported Frank.

"I am in shock over this to tell you the truth.

"As far as we were aware the manager had conducted an in-depth trawl of talent over the course of our county football championships and had been laying his plans for 2014. This was a bolt from the blue."

Dawson had taken over the reins from Liam Bradley and had been in charge since the start of this year.

Antrim were beaten by Monaghan in the Ulster Championship and then lost in the All-Ireland qualifiers to Louth.

But Dawson ostensibly remained upbeat in relation to the future and, having been ratified in his post for 2014, had lost no time in making his plans for the new campaign.

Today, though, Antrim find themselves at a crossroads.

They must commence a search for what will be their third manager in five years and with Fermanagh also in the hunt for a new boss following the resignation of Peter Canavan, it means that two counties face an onerous task at what is normally a difficult period of the year.

Dawson, principal of St Ronan's PS, Newry, formerly managed Burren among other sides and indeed came into the Antrim post with impressive club management credentials.

But he has now made it clear that his vision of the way ahead did not reconcile with that of the Antrim County Board.

"It was made obvious to me since my ratification, and over recent days, following a meeting with county officers, that my plans and ambitions for moving forward were not matched by all concerned. It always appeared that there was a different agenda," declared Dawson.

"Therefore I believe it is best for all concerned, and in particular for all those genuine Antrim footballers and supporters, that I move on."

Towards the end of the Allianz League campaign, Dawson became embroiled in a very public impasse with key players Tomas McCann and Tony Scullion both of whom then left the squad.

"We will meet and put a procedure in place for choosing a new manager," said a defiant Mulgrew.

Belfast Telegraph


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