Flanagan frustrated with Westmeath County Board

Pat Flanagan has spoken of his disappointment at the way he was let go as manager of the Westmeath senior footballers, with Dubliner Paul Bealin voted in to replace him earlier this week.

It seems that Flanagan had no prior indication from the Westmeath County Board about the process they were adopting to ratify a manager for the 2014 campaign.

The Offaly man had been given a two-year term last September and was admittedly surprised when told recently that Westmeath were seeking nominations for the managerial role, with Flanagan required to put himself forward for an interview like the other candidates.

Although the Lakesiders made little headway in this summer's Championship - falling to both Dublin and Fermanagh - Flanagan did guide them to promotion from Division 2 of the Allianz League and the general consensus was that he was doing a good job.

However, the Westmeath GAA officials obviously felt otherwise and an original list of nine candidates was cut to three - Flanagan, Bealin and Jack Sheedy - with 1995 All-Ireland winner Bealin, who previously managed Wexford and Carlow, appointed as Flanagan's successor on Wednesday night.

Giving his reaction to how he was ousted from the job, Flanagan told the Evening Herald: "Just in the spirit of it, it's very, very difficult to handle. I got a two-year term and I thought the situation was going to be either ratification or not this year.

"While on holidays, I got a phone call asking me could my name go forward for interview. I didn't understand what was going on because I thought I got two years. I was told who was involved. Paul Bealin obviously came in at a later stage.

"I find it very frustrating that none of the County Board had contacted me at that stage. I knew nothing about it, only for what the Tyrrellspass club told me."

The club delegates duly had their say in voting for a new manager and the situation of the clubs ratifying the manager each year will continue according to Westmeath County Board Chairman Sean Sheridan.

Speaking to Midlands 103, Sheridan explained: "We have to listen to the clubs, the clubs are very important to our county. Paul Bealin would like to do three years with Westmeath, but he has to be ratified by the clubs of Westmeath each year."

The Westmeath Chairman did acknowledge the stewardship of Flanagan who was initially brought in as an interim boss in April 2010, following Brendan Hackett's disappointing reign which lasted barely seven months.

"Pat is an outstanding man, he gave great service to Westmeath. The work that Pat did I have to applaud it," said Sheridan.

"He brought Westmeath from Division 3 up to Division 1. I know the work he put in, I know first-hand having been with him this year the amount of work and effort and time he put in."

Those words will be of little consolation to Flanagan now as his hopes of building on Westmeath's promotion to the top flight - they last played Division 1 football in 2009 - are over.

"I just find it very, very difficult to understand. After six matches of the league campaign, we were the only unbeaten team in the country - and five games later, I'm not wanted any longer," he insisted.

"When I got the job initially, I told the County Board of my plan and my plan was to get to Division 1 and stay there for a number of years - basically, to make us competitive, because Westmeath have only won one Championship in 130 years.

"They've had no success at minor for the last ten or twelve years, so no basis to orchestrate a Leinster Championship from there. We had to go, in my opinion, from a different direction.

"We had achieved our aim and this was the year that we should have been pushing to maintain our Division 1 status and playing against the best teams in the country to give these young players the opportunity to develop."

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