After a turbulent week for Portlaoise GAA, Colm Parkinson heaped more unwanted attention on the club, as he launched a scathing outburst against their senior management team of Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh on Newstalk radio on Monday night.
Parkinson was a guest on the ‘Off The Ball’ show on the national radio station, and while airing his grievances over being started, taken off, brought back on, and taken off again in the game, he said, “I’m not going to lie, we have joint managers and some of the decisions that they make are absolutely crazy, but I don’t know if they are going to stay on next year or not.
“They are totally out of their depth, I gave out about intercounty managers a lot, but I’ve never once, publicly, given out about a Portlaoise manager, but it’s hard to keep your mouth shut with these two fellas.”
Parkinson’s criticism came just over 24 hours after Portlaoise had lost out to St Brigid’s in extra time in the Leinster Club SFC semi-final, and less than a week after the club took the controversial decision to boycott the Laois GAA Congress over the suspension currently being served by Mick Lillis.
Parkinson also alleged that it was full-back Cahir Healy who made the decision for him to come back into the side for the start of extra time.
“My feet were freezing, my hands were freezing, and then the full-back Cahir Healy came up to me after the game on the field and said ‘you’re going to come back on, I’m after telling the manager to bring you back on’, which I couldn’t believe.
“When I got back to the dressing room, the manager was at the dressing room door telling me I was going to come on, so I had a bit of a row with him, saying ‘what was I being brought off for in the first place’ and ‘what good is it coming back on only because some player tells you to bring me back on’. Then I came back on and in fairness I was poor in extra time, I deserved to come back off then, but it was just mad stuff.”
It isn’t the first time Parkinson has courted controversy on Newstalk, having previously described Mick O’Dwyer as a ‘bluffer’ on the station, while also voicing his displeasure at current Laois manager Justin McNulty.
Mick Lillis, one of Portlaoise’s joint managers along with Mark Kavanagh, refused to get into a war of words with Parkinson.
“I don’t really have anything to say” said Lillis. “It is a pity he wouldn’t say it to Mark (Kavanagh) or me instead of going on the radio.
“There are a couple of sides to every story, but Colm is Colm. I think this stems from frustration, which is the same for a lot of players, but there’s not much point in getting into it.”
Parkinson also announced on both the social networking site ‘Twitter’ and on the Newstalk show that he would be retiring from football, going so far as to say that “there wouldn’t be a hope that I’d go back playing with Portlaoise if those two were involved with the team next year.”
Club secretary Peter O’Neill backed the management team of Lillis and Kavanagh. “That’s Colm’s own opinion, whoever wants to listen to it can listen to it, but we fully support the management team.
“Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, but tell me a manager Colm hasn’t had a problem with?”
When asked of Parkinson’s threat to retire if Lillis and Kavanagh were managers next year, and whather this would influence the club in their selection of a manager for next year, O’Neill responded. “All I would say to that is that I wish him all the best in his retirement, as we did when he went to Dublin.”
Portlaoise were already courting controversy this week with their decision to boycott the Laois GAA convention over the suspension being served by Mick Lillis.
Lillis received a six month ban after getting involved in a sideline fracas with Arles-Kilcruise manager Mick Byrne, who also received a six month suspension. As Byrne is not a member of a GAA club in Laois, his hearing had to be heard by the Leinster Council, who decided to reduce his suspension to three months.
Lillis, being a member of Portlaoise GAA club, went to the CHC here, which upheld the six month suspension. An appeal to the Leinster Council also proved fruitless, and the case is now with the DRA.
Laois GAA chairman Brian Allen was unhappy with the club’s decision to boycott the convention. “I would feel it is an over-reaction, there is a process there to seek an appeal.
“Each case was dealt with by two different hearings committees, we implemented the rules as we saw it, and the Leinster Council implemented them as they saw it, each body is independent.”
Portlaoise club secretary Peter O’Neill, who is a member of the County Executive as Coaching and Games Officer, said the club had no regrets about boycotting the Convention, as they felt Mick Lillis’ case needed to be highlighted. “No, because Laois people need to know what way Mick Lillis was treated, that a person from outside the county can get three months, and a person from inside the county can get six months.”
O’Neill also said the club had no regrets about going public with the matter despite the case still being in the hands of the DRA. He went on to say that Portlaoise “had no problem with the clubs of Laois”, before adding that things will “come out in the wash, and people can judge for themselves.”
O’Neill also felt there was no need for him to review his position on the County Executive over the club’s stance on the suspension. Despite the club refusing to attend Convention, O’Neill, explained why he still showed up to last Wednesday night’s meeting. “No, I won’t review it (his position), I do my part on the County Board and I don’t think anyone can deny that. I am not a delegate for Portlaoise, I am an elected member of the County Board, I was elected by the clubs of Laois, and that is why I was at Convention.”