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Joe Kernan: A question of timing... and Ulster rugby got it all wrong

The role of the coach or manager in any sport is never easy. Even when his team is winning he still knows he is only a defeat away from possible ridicule.

But what happened to what I regard as two of Ulster’s most capable and honest bosses within the past week is, in my book, inexcusable.

I have been following the fortunes of the Ulster rugby team for some time but I was left stunned by the manner in which the ‘removal’ of coach Brian McLaughlin was conducted.

And my disgust was replicated on Sunday when I witnessed the insensitive manner in which Donegal manager Jim McGuinness was queried on what has become known as the ‘Kevin Cassidy affair’ following his team’s match against Laois.

For McLaughlin, an honourable and dedicated man, his public humiliation – for that is what it was – showed the Ulster Branch up in a poor light. The affair was badly handled and the fact that he actually felt to obliged to apologise — what I don’t really know — a day later was nothing short of bizarre.

That same word would do justice to what took place in front of the TG4 cameras at the end of the Donegal v Laois game on Sunday. Donegal manager Jim McGuinness was questioned about Kevin Cassidy — again! — yet Cassidy was standing about three feet away from him in his role as a TG4 match analyst.

McGuinness kept his cool in the face of what I thought was some insensitive questioning on a subject that has been, to put it mildly, done to death since it first came to the surface away before Christmas.

McGuinness may have his detractors but he certainly did not deserve to be bombarded with questions that he has answered more than once in the recent past — or does TG4 not take cognisance of what is happening in the real world?

Cassidy made the point last week that he would not be coming back to the Donegal squad irrespective of what happens because the season is well under way and at 31 he might encounter difficulty in getting up to the levels of fitness required for the demanding inter-county arena.

Enough said.

Belfast Telegraph

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