Dessie Dolan is Westmeath's new senior football manager.

Chairman disappointed over ‘leak’ of announcement as Dolan is ratified

On Wednesday night, Dessie Dolan got a unanimous nod from Westmeath GAA county committee delegates to succeed Jack Cooney as the Lake County’s senior football manager.

Garrycastle clubman Dolan, a Leinster SFC medallist in 2004 and one of the county’s greatest ever forwards, takes on the role for two years, with the option of a third available to him. As usual, the appointment will be subject to annual ratification by the county board.

“On behalf of us all, I wish Dessie the best of luck in the job. As a player, if he’s not the most decorated, he’s certainly one of the most decorated players of all generations in Westmeath football,” Westmeath GAA chairman Frank Mescall told the meeting at the Bloomfield House Hotel on Wednesday.

“And if he brings anything of that to the playing field, he will be a success. He is a winner, and there’s not too many of them around. The way he thinks, the way he conducts himself, he’s an out-and-out winner.

“Jack has left the panel in a good place, and I think we’re all looking for continuity. That’s what we’ve got now. So I hope you will co-operate with him; he will be looking for things along the way.”

Mr Mescall, however, expressed his “disappointment” at the apparent leaking of the story of Dolan’s appointment to the media, before management and delegates heard the news.

“I’m disappointed that the appointment was leaked to the media before tonight’s meeting. It didn’t come from me. Some of you were here earlier at the [management] meeting; management only knew about it at 7.30pm this evening,” he remarked.

“I had a phone call at 10.30am today to confirm it. I felt bad when a journalist rang me yesterday and I told him I couldn’t tell him. But it’s disappointing the way these things get out.

“I think management and you people [delegates] deserve to be first to know these things. I can’t apologise personally for it because I had nothing to do with it, but it is disappointing, and I am disappointed that you’re hearing it secondhand.”

Rosemount’s John Keane, Dolan’s teammate on the Delaney Cup-winning side in 2004 and Westmeath’s only two-time All Star, will remain in the Lake County setup, as will all of the backroom team assembled by Jack Cooney. A high-profile coaching addition is set to be named in the near future.

Also at the meeting on Wednesday, Westmeath senior hurling manager Joe Fortune and his team were ratified for another year, after a hugely positive season in which Westmeath scooped the Kehoe Cup, Division 2A of the NHL and kept their place in the Liam MacCarthy Cup reckoning for 2023.

Castletown Geoghegan’s Pat Clarke was approved as Westmeath’s new minor hurling manager. Joining him in his backroom team will be John Shaw (Raharney) and Andrew Mitchell (Clonkill).

Damien Gavin (St Mary’s, Rochfortbridge) and Andrew Dermody (Castlepollard) will return as U20 football and hurling managers respectively.