Limerick left in turmoil as McDonald departs just weeks before new campaign
Article by Kieran Burke - @KieranBTS. [getty src="852297950" width="594" height="396" tld="ie"]
Limerick FC have this morning been left in turmoil following the departure of manager Neil McDonald. Appointed as "Super Blues" boss in May of last year following the clubs decision to part with Martin Russell, McDonald stated his intention to oversee a "long-term" project with the Munster club, however just eight-months later and McDonald has jumped ship with the assistant managers role at Scunthorpe his new port of call.
In a length statement released this morning on www.limerickfc.ie, the club stated that they had reluctantly accepted McDonald's resignation following compensation talks between the Premier Division outfit and McDonald's new employers.
"Limerick FC have reluctantly accepted the decision of Neil McDonald to leave his position as first-team manager of the club in order to take up an opportunity in the UK, in the role of assistant manager at English League One club Scunthorpe United.
The club received an official approach from Scunthorpe and, having consulted with Neil, he made the decision to hold talks with the Lincolnshire-based side.
All parties have come to agreement, and Limerick FC at this stage would like to place on record the professionalism displayed by both Scunthorpe United FC and Neil McDonald in these dealings."
Also in the club statement, which was posted shortly before mid-day, Limerick chairman Pat O'Sullivan paid tribute to his now former employee McDonald despite his brief stay at Market Fields.
“The club and myself are naturally disappointed to be losing Neil at this time. However, when an opportunity like this is presented to your manager, where there is potential for him to be in the English Championship next season, Limerick FC is more than happy to fully back Neil and support him in taking up this position.
“It is also a compliment to Limerick FC that even though Neil has only been with us a short time, that his work has been rewarded with this very positive opportunity in his career. We thank Neil for his contribution to Limerick football in his time here.
“We also thank Neil for his help in the development of our young players, which brought about a rare opportunity for a League of Ireland club to have one of its players trialled at one of the top English Premier League clubs – that is a compliment to Neil’s managerial ability. In mentioning that, I must note the terrific work being done with our young players by our coaches throughout the club, in the first team and Academy structure.”
The Chairman added: “I wish to place on record Limerick FC’s thanks to Scunthorpe United FC for their professionalism in their dealings with us and we wish both Scunthorpe and Neil the very best of luck.”
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Clearly a very amicable departure, McDonald also put on record his thanks to Mr.O'Sullivan and Limerick FC.
“I had a fantastic time at Limerick even though it was a short period. I came to do a specific job; to help the club maintain its Premier status, to thin the squad out as it was top-heavy and to give the young players a chance – I’d like to think that I achieved all three.
“I want to thank Pat O’Sullivan, the Board and all the staff for helping me to settle in so well. It can be hard to settle when you move to a new country but thanks to everybody at the club I was able to do that quickly.
“Limerick will always be my club in Ireland; I will watch them every chance I get and hope that they do very well, which I’m sure they will. I had a great time and I wish the club the best of luck.”
Despite the levels of respect shown in this mornings statement between McDonald and the club, Limerick supporters have already began to vent their anger at a perceived lack of organisation surrounding the club ahead of the new league campaign that begins in February.
Eric Kinder, McDonald's assistant at Limerick, will oversee the start of pre-season training which also gets underway today but as of yet the Munster club have only managed to bring in three new recruits for next season. Daniel Kearns, Danny Morrisey and Cian Coleman have bulked the squad tally to eleven but with star-man Chiedozie Ogbene not expected to remain at Market Fields much longer, the "Super Blues" are in desperate need of reinforcements.
In fact, many are already drawing comparisons between this off-season and the lead up to the 2015 campaign which resulted in Martin Russell's Limerick dropping into the First Division after some abysmal transfer dealings.
With the ink not yet set on Neil McDonald's departure letter it remains to be seen who may throw their name into the hat for the vacant Limerick job. However, supporters will certainly want a replacement in sooner rather than later with fresh playing faces to follow.