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Sunday 21 October 2018

Lyng says Meyler dismissal was the incorrect decision

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

Saying sorry may not be enough, especially almost ten years after the event, but former inter-county hurler Diarmuid 'Gizzy' Lyng has come out in public and said 'we owe John Meyler an apology'.

Lyng made this amazing admission in a recent interview with John Fogarty, G.A.A. journalist with the 'Irish Examiner', when he openly admitted to being one of the ringleaders of the group that convinced Wexford County Board to oust Meyler as Senior manager in 2008. He was one of the four players whom an irate Meyler lashed out at following his departure.

'I am not that disappointed to be sacked because I now know why they will never beat Kilkenny,' Meyler said at the time.

This was one of the most controversial and bizarre decisions ever taken in the county. Then County Chairman, Ger Doyle, along with County Secretary, Margaret Doyle, travelled to Dungarvan and issued the Tacumshane native with his walking papers, a decision that caused fury in the county and is still festering among the G.A.A. fraternity even to this day.

And now Lyng's belated interview and admission throws further fuel on the still burning fire.

Meyler said at the time of his dismissal: 'The four players refused to identify themselves, refused to stand up, refused to meet me face-to-face. Now I know why they'll never beat Kilkenny, but it's two years too late.'

Lyng was one of a quartet - along with Rory Jacob, David O'Connor and Eoin Quigley - who were representing the majority view of the panel. 'I found with Wexford over the years is that people will be very strong in the dressing rooms and talking before managers come in and media get their hands on you,' he told Fogarty.

'Then when it comes to the crunch there are always a few fall guys and at the time I felt the four were held up as if it was our wish alone but we were the four put forward to communicate the panel as a whole were in favour of John going.'

The first half of Meyler's two-year tenure was full of promise, as only Kilkenny beat them (twice) in that year's All-Ireland championship, in the Leinster final and All-Ireland semi-final. The Cats had knocked them out of the league too, but Galway and Tipperary had been defeated.

One of the key factors in the player revolt, as outlined by Lyng, was the decision not to continue with Podge Murphy as weights trainer for 2008.

'John is a force of nature, an absolute whirlwind of a man and I would have done anything for him - I thought he was great. But then he let Podge go,' Lyng said.

'I couldn't understand how we lost Podge Murphy and there wasn't the same structures the following year or the same solidity. A lot of the fellas - Rory Jacob, Keith Rossiter, David Redmond, Eoin Quigley, myself, 'Doc' O'Connor, were in their late 20s and it was like "are we going to get '07 John Meyler or '08 John Meyler?"

Lyng accepted that the coup was a mistake, one that would echo in the following seasons.

'In the end, he was proven right because when you get rid of a manager, as the current Galway crop will tell you, you have to show your true colours in the following two or three years, and we showed ours, bottoming out, and we got worse.

'It was actually a disservice and a poor call. If I have one regret in my career it's going against keeping John that year. I genuinely feel that I owe him an apology.'

'Passion and chaos' is how Lyng summed up those two seasons.

'I remember just the great f...... spirit of the man and you'd go to war for that type of passion any time of the week. Colm Bonnar replaced him and he would have come from a very different school and I would be much closer to the John Meyler school of hurling.

'I don't think John's strong point is tactics. I think his strong point is the passion and the force he will bring as a person,' added Lyng, prior to Meyler's return home for Cork's recent clash with Wexford.

Meyler may have been cast aside by his native county, but he has progressed to become manager of one of the biggest counties in the country. That's an answer in itself to those Wexford critics.

John received a real Wexford welcome on his return back to his native soil, and he carries the best wishes of all those genuine local G.A.A. supporters.

Wexford People

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