BY AIDAN O’DONNELL
EAMON McConigley has questioned “the direction” of the Ulster Senior League after stepping down as Chairman this week, following an incredible 14-year spell at the helm.
The Fanad man, currently in charge of Letterkenny Rovers, brought an end to his reign at the head of the top table earlier this week and is worried about the future of the USL.
“Fourteen years is a long time and it has taken its toll,” he told the Donegal News. “I’m not sure about the direction that the Ulster Senior League is taking. There are problems in the Ulster Senior League and I don’t want to be a part of it.
“I’d be worried about it but hopefully, over time, it won’t fester itself. From my own point of view, there are things that need changing and I’m just not sure if I have the energy anymore to try and tackle such issues.”
The USL endured one of its most turbulent seasons last year and issues such as the protracted saga between Cockhill Celtic and Fanad United, and the fielding of illegal players from outside the FAI jurisdiction by Killea did little to enhance its flailing reputation.
And McConigley, who was re-appointed to the Chair at last year’s AGM, felt now was the best time, with the season having just started, to step aside.
He said: “There have been problems cropping up since the start of the year and I, myself, am big enough to take things being said to me, but my family have been saying it’s not worth it.
“People think because I was the Chairman that all the decisions were made by me, but as everybody knows that’s not true.
“It’s a democratic committee and any decisions that are taken are always well discussed and ultimately made together by the committee.
“A lot of people stood up and asked for me to stay on at the AGM last year but as this year went on I felt it was best to pull the pin.”
Vice-Chairman Jim McConnell is now expected to take over for the rest of the season until the re-election of the committee at the AGM at the end of the campaign.
“It’s very important that whoever takes over does a good a job because it’s a good league. I wish them all the best and maybe it’s time for somebody new to come in that is more energetic,” McConigley said.
“The League was easy to run in the early stages; problems were handled among ourselves. And I’m not criticising anybody that is involved today but things were just easier to deal with back then.”
McConigley said he took a lot of pride as Chairman in seeing teams progress to the latter stages of the Intermediate Cup, a competition which he won twice during his time with Fanad.
“My main highlight was probably the introduction of monies been awarded to teams who progressed in the Intermediate Cup where they would get a €1000 for expenses if they travelled to Cork and €500 for a game in Dublin.
“I always felt it was important to promote the league as best we could and with clubs often strapped for cash this was a great boost and an incentive to do well and represent the league on a national stage,” he said.
Meanwhile, Disciplinary Secretary/Registrar Dessie Kelly said McConigley’s departure from the top table is a “big loss”.
He said: “I’d be disappointed to see Eamon step down. He’s served the league well since the foundation of it back in 1986.
“He’s won league titles as a player and a manger with several clubs. He’s been with Fanad, Killea and Letterkenny and to lose someone of that experience will be a big loss and hard to replace.”
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