What more can be said about the departure of Pete McGrath? Half the country has weighed in with opinions and analysis of the situation. We all dream of seeing Fermanagh on the front pages on Ulster Final weekend but the negative headlines surrounding McGrath’s exit could have and should have been avoided.

It has been stated that the county board were informed about certain issues in the panel before McGrath was reinstated. If this is true then the county board have a lot to answer for.

Could the issues not have been sorted out behind closed doors before the appointment was made?

The way it was dealt with has brought nothing only discontent for everyone involved; Pete McGrath has left our county with a sour taste in his mouth, the players are being blamed and supporters are very disgruntled.

The handling of the situation is the reason it has become so nasty. It did not need to come to this.

When I shook hands with Pete as he exited the field in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, I seriously thought that was the end of his time with Fermanagh.

He played his part; he took the team as far as he could, he brought back a bit of confidence that had disappeared in the few years following our Ulster Final defeat. I got the vibe he was getting ready to part company with us and that confidence had whittled out this year with the loss of so many players for one reason or another. I think this was the general consensus and was therefore surprised when his reappointment was announced.

From playing under a few different managers – including Pete McGrath at International Rules level – three years is the optimum tenure unless tangible success has been achieved. It can be difficult listening to the same voice and motivational stories year in and year out. I didn’t always agree with every manager I played under but I respected him and got on with the job. I wasn’t playing for the manager, I was playing for my team mates, myself and most of all my county. The manager’s views may have been different from my own but his end goal was always the same; to bring success to Fermanagh.

Player power is being touted as the reason for Pete’s resignation. Whether we like it or not, players should have the right to express their opinions and concerns, especially if they feel that they are meaningful and important for the improvement of the team. In ‘08 and ‘09, as captain, along with Ryan McCluskey, I would meet Malachy O’Rourke and his management team once a week to share the players’ opinions and raise any issues that the panel had. Malachy may not have taken everything we said on board but he gave us the impression that he was listening and that our views mattered.

As much as I believe that players’ opinions count, I don’t believe that you should leave the panel just because you are not getting on or you don’t like the set-up. Representing your county is a privilege and respecting your manager is part of the job. The respect needs to go both ways however and a good manager should be able to manage different personalities and the diverse backgrounds of the thirty plus lads on a team.

I don’t know what the issues were that led to Pete’s departure but I know that he is a gentleman and he gave a lot to Fermanagh over the last few years. Having said that, I have also played with or against many of the players on the current team and I know that they would give their all for the county. As I said before, the way the situation was handled has led to this bitterness and it is certainly a shame to leave it like this.

Now that the dust is beginning to settle, the hunt starts again for a new chief. A number of candidates have already been linked to the post, all of them achieving success over the last few seasons.

Dom Corrigan, Martin Greene and Nigel Seaney are all successful in their current club management posts in Fermanagh and Tyrone. Dom’s name stands out, having been there before and leading us to an All-Ireland Quarter Final in 2003. Having played under Dom, I know that his preparation is meticulous and I’m sure the players will not need to worry about anything other than playing football. He is a good ‘man manager’ and gets the best out of his players, which is very important as I’ve pointed out.

Martin Greene has built a strong panel of players in Derrygonnelly that look like dominating Fermanagh football for a few years to come. The question is, will Derrygonnelly want to let him go? In Trillick, the word is that they want Nigel Seaney to remain at the helm and can see more success under his watch. Rory Gallagher is also linked with the post and from first-hand experience, his tactical awareness of the game is top class but will he want to go straight into management after taking Donegal for a few years?

In the past, Brian McIvor and James McCartan have shown interest in taking the hot seat in Fermanagh and may come into the equation again. Whoever the new man might be, he will need time to assess the players at his disposal during the Championship at the end of the month.

The first task of the new management team will be to unite the panel and build up a bit of comradery, confidence and team spirit. We can only hope that whoever takes on the responsibility will return a bit of pride to the Fermanagh jersey as we have been badly tarnished by this latest debacle.