Fitzpatrick and Lawton both depart Stevenson Park
The world of local rugby was taken by surprise last Wednesday morning when Dungannon announced that Justin Fitzpatrick, right, has stepped down with immediate effect as their Director of Rugby.
The former Ulster and Ireland player’s shock departure is understood to have been prompted by personal reasons and he is, by all accounts, heading back to Bognor Regis.
The Tyrone club accepted the resignation of the 26 times capped former international and wished him every success in the future.
A spokesman said: “Since his appointment Justin has been instrumental in recent success. He has built a strong squad of players and under his leadership the club has performed extremely well on the field of play at every level.
“We have won back-to-back Ulster Senior league titles, in 2011 and 2012, the Ulster Senior Cup in 2011 as well as competing at the top of All Ireland League Division 1B.
“We will miss Justin and thank him for his work and achievements during his time with us.
“He leaves the club in a strong position from minis and youth rugby, through community junior rugby up to senior level.”
The spokesman added: “The club is now preparing for the new season and taking steps to appoint a new coaching team to ensure continuity and to build on the strong foundations in place.
“We are confident that we have the right talent both on and off the field to continue to perform at the forefront of Irish club rugby.
“A strong squad of players has been established, which has been further strengthened by new signings since the end of last season.
“Our ambition is to provide the highest standard of coaching and facilities, to develop young Irish players to their full potential and ultimately to gain promotion to Division 1A of the All Ireland league.
“Thereafter, our goal will be to win the All Ireland League again.”
Kieran Campbell, who took up an assistant coaching role with Dungannon when Fitzpatrick was appointed, is expected to remain at the club, but it is understood he will not be elevated to the director’s role, due to working comitments.
It’s understood that Campbell has been sought by other clubs for coaching roles, but has turned these down.
Meanwhile, the club’s top points-scorer last season, Michael Lawton, right, has moved to Ballynahinch.
He will unquestionably be a big loss to the Stevenson Park club but it appears that he has taken up a post of youth development officer there.
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Weather for Dungannon
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west