RORY Kavanagh has spoken publicly for the first time on his decision to withdraw from the Donegal managerial process last year.
Kavanagh looked set to be appointed as Declan Bonner’s successor, but then dropped out after the St Eunan’s team he was managing lost the county final against Naomh Conaill.
Paddy Carr was eventually appointed as Donegal manager but his spell in charge was short, and things have not gone well for the county in 2023.
Kavanagh was part of a panel as St Eunan’s College hosted ‘From Castle Tales to Croke Park Legends’ in the Mount Errigal Hotel this evening.
The 2012 All-Ireland winner was joined by Brendan Devenney, Colm McFadden, Michael Murphy, and Neil Gallagher.
They had a brilliant hard-hitting discussion in front of a large crowd, and MC Charlie Collins didn’t shy away from the tricky questions.
He asked Kavanagh to clarify the situation.
“You said there that I had the job, we must be the only county that you get a job before you do an interview,” said the current St Eunan’s manager.
“There was no interview done so to say that Rory Kavanagh had the job is a wee bit disingenuous to everybody else.
“But look, yes the county final happened, and there were things that happened during that, that we weren’t happy with.
“But ultimately for me, I had to stand back and say look, what’s right for me and what’s right for my family, and was the timing right, and ultimately the timing wasn’t right.
“Everything has to be in place as you know to go into a job of that magnitude.
“The first time that we had serious discussions about that job was in September.
He added: “It was Karl Lacey, and as you know he is someone that I have the utmost respect for, along with all these fellas that are sitting on the couch tonight.
“I got involved in that process probably against my better judgement if I’m being honest because I was still involved with St Eunan’s.
“I had a very important role there and we were in the middle of championship.
“I got involved because I suppose (when) Karl Lacey comes and asks you to get involved, you take it seriously.
“Things didn’t work out. It’s disappointing that it turned out that way but I had to weigh up where I was in my own life and where I was with my family, and ultimately I felt after the county final that we still have a bit of work to do with them boys.
“We hadn’t appeared in a county final since 2015. We had been in back-to-back county finals.
“We had a massive achievement in year one followed by a serious disappointment in year two. Ultimately I felt that team needs to develop further, and could I offer something to them.
“I spoke with the players and that was the road we decided to take to take to with that team.”
Collins then asked the former Donegal midfielder: “if your name was thrown into the hat by people without coming to you and saying ‘can we throw your name into the hat?’
Kavanagh replied: “Our name was thrown in the hat when we had met with two County Board officials.
“There was a process that needed to take place, and obviously the confidentiality was part of that and you had to follow due process.
“I was involved with my club and I had to protect my team although the confidentiality piece went out the window.
“I was getting interviewed by every man and his dog about it then.
“That there had a negative impact and ultimately I will learn from that because it took away from our team and it took away from St Eunan’s and it caused unnecessary distractions.
“I probably shouldn’t have got involved in that knowing that sort of clamour was going to come.
“That clamour was going to come inevitably in a football mad county.
“Declan (Bonner) probably knew it was going to be his last year, County Board officials knew it was going to be his last year, the boys got knocked out in June, and I was approached by Karl in September. That’s a long, long time.
“I know most people in this room and in Donegal would have wanted Jim (McGuinness) and I think he was the County Board’s first preference and they approached him.
“Jim is a busy man and he has his football commitments and that was his decision.
“They might have gone on to Malachy O’Rourke – another very credible candidate but again stepped out of it.
“Karl came at that stage, and everyone wants the best for Donegal football. It’s such a big, big role, and this is my experience talking that you’re only out of playing and you go into senior management – you need to get experience and you need everything in place.
“Ultimately when I weighed it up, it wasn’t the right time for me.”
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