MONAGHAN UNITED say they have been left stunned by the decision of manager Mick Cooke to end his eight-year reign as boss to take over at Drogheda United -- less than a week before the new season starts.
It was a traumatic weekend for fans -- and players -- from both clubs as Cooke has now only days to prepare Drogheda for their Premier Division season-opener against UCD on Friday , while Monaghan are without a manager.
Drogheda had been on the hunt for a new boss following Bobby Browne's exit on Saturday. Drogheda issued a statement saying they had "parted company" with Browne but the Dubliner insisted that he was forced out as the club were, he said, "changing direction and were looking for someone else to come in".
Drogheda were due to be relegated having finished bottom of the Premier last season but were given a reprieve when Sporting Fingal dropped out.
Browne had been building a team with new signings like Brian Gannon and Dinny Corcoran announced only on Friday. After Friday night's pre-season game away to Wexford Youths Browne was summoned to a meeting and axed.
Yesterday morning, Cooke took charge of the Monaghan side for their friendly against Bray Wanderers in Dublin, but hours later came news that he'd resigned to take over at Drogheda.
"Monaghan United fans are stunned with this morning's announcement by manager Mick Cooke that he has joined Drogheda United," Monaghan said in a statement.
"Since Mick in recent days had finalised his side for 2011 season and with only a week left to the commencing games his decision has definitely wrong-footed the club's Management Committee."