A leading Donegal GAA official has lashed out at those who posted abusive comments about former Donegal team manager Rory Gallagher on social media in the immediate aftermath of the crushing defeat to Galway.
In paying a strong tribute to Gallagher and his contribution to the GAA in Donegal over the past six years, county PRO Ed Byrne said the so-called “keyboard warriors” were not warriors at all.
“They are faceless cowards. Rory is not on social media but that does not make this form of abuse any better. It was also directed against some of the players and other GAA figures and is totally unacceptable.
“These people are putting the fear of God into genuine people that if they make a mistake on the football field they will be subjected to vile abuse. Indeed such was the level of abuse, that it is understood that Facebook had suspended some accounts.”
Byrne, who like Gallagher lives in Killybegs, said he was “saddened and shocked” at the Fermanagh man’s departure.
“It was generally felt that he would stay on and there was surprise and not much talk at Monday night’s county board meeting. This could not have been an easy decision for him to make as we know how much Donegal GAA has been a part of his life since 2011.
“I am really sad he is gone. Rory was granted an extension in time last year to develop a young team. And he repeatedly told us that it was going to take a few years for these lads to develop. He put a structure in place at a time when we lost nine or ten top quality players.
“Rory kept telling us that it was going to take a few years for success to come to the county. But there was still an expectation in the county that Donegal could be winning Ulster titles. Maybe we just did not listen to him enough. This was always going to be a three- to four-year project”
And Byrne also paid tribute to Gallagher’s direct engagement with the media.
“No matter what time I contacted him he was always approachable and if he had something to say then he came out and said it and I found that refreshing. And he always engaged with the media and usually made every word count.
“We were heavily beaten by Galway so you might think he might not want to talk to the press but he came straight out and faced his questioners and critics. That is something that stands to his character”.