Royal rumpus over Banty leaves Meath in a pickle

THE Meath management saga has generated attention far beyond the county bounds. Such coverage surprises me given that the Royals haven’t ruled the football landscape since the halcyon days of Seán Boylan.

But controversy, or the whiff of it, always generates interest and Meath’s managerial appointments in recent seasons have, it seems, always been coupled with drama.

The ending of Eamon O’Brien’s reign was surprising to most outsiders. Meath are Leinster champions, albeit controversially, and they played attractive football in this year’s championship. Still, the powers that be decided O’Brien wasn’t good enough to remain in charge and so he got the road.

But it’s easy to fire someone: it’s not as easy to replace him.

Meath seemed to go about the search for his replacement in a sensible manner appointing a three-man committee – Barney Allen, Joe Cassells and Liam Keane – to make a recommendation.

Sensible men without a doubt.

But it seems when they recommended Seamus McEnaney, the Meath executive weren’t too happy with their findings. I feel it’s not a personal issue with the ex-Monaghan man but the fact that he is not a Meath native.

Understandable to a degree – outside managers haven’t been spectacularly successful, especially in winning All-Irelands, and that’s what every county is about.

The executive will have seen the unfortunate under-performance by Galway under former Armagh All-Ireland winning manager Joe Kernan, to give one example.

McEnaney, despite the great progress he made with Monaghan, didn’t land the Anglo-Celt or Sam Maguire Cups.

Meath is full of men walking about with All-Ireland medals in their pockets. Would one of these not manage the county team? Are they all too busy or too cute to take on the major challenge that intercounty management is nowadays?

We must assume so, as Barney Allen, Joe Cassells and Liam Keane must surely have considered all options within the county before turning north for assistance.

Now if the county board rejects McEnaney’s nomination, Meath could very likely have a major crisis on its hands. That would not be good either for Meath or the GAA. If you appoint a committee to do a job, it seems logical to accept their recommendation.

Will that happen in Meath? The GAA trembles at the possible consequences...

Good Week

AHERLOW captured only their second Tipperary SFC title on Sunday when they defeated Loughmore-Castleiney in sensational fashion at Semple Stadium.

The newly crowned champions kicked an injury time point to win by the minimum.

The decider was a competitive and tense affair. One of the great strengths of the GAA is that regardless of the outside world, competitions within baronies and counties are fought for with the same zeal and determination as an All-Ireland final. That was evident again on Sunday. Loughmore-Castleiney led for most of the tie only to be caught at the death.

They lost James Egan with 10 minutes remaining to a second yellow card, which probably tilted the balance in Aherlow’s failure. Events like that would lead one to question the yellow card system. There are many supporters who feel that a kind of half way house of a sin-bin or some other less draconian penalty would be more appropriate.

Nevertheless, if Aherlow had taken their chances in the first five minutes the game might have been over by half-time. Thankfully not, as a tight contest is always preferable.

Bad Week

WE thought the Cork footballers – NFL and All-Ireland champions – were hard done by when they had only four players honoured as Vodafone All-Stars.

But then came the news that only three of Conor Counihan’s side made the GPA team of the year.

Is it a case of ‘sorry journalists, all is forgiven’, or are the players nationwide unfair to Cork?

Whatever the reasoning Cork have sensibly said very little about the selections. But I’m sure when Championship 2011 comes around, Counihan’s men will use these slights as a very powerful motivational tool to prove their worth too all.

Still, at least Daniel Goulding got the recognition he deserves on the GPA selection after his glaring omission from the GAA’s equivalent.

I was delighted to see that the GPA also honoured the Ring, Rackard and Meagher tiers of hurling at their gala ceremony on Friday night. All inter-county players deserve respect and recognition. The GPA put their words into action by this move last week. More of the same wouldn’t go astray throughout the entire Association.

Agus Rud Eile

I was asked a long time ago to travel to Antrim for the centenary banquet of the St. Gall’s club. It meant missing the GPA banquet, which I have attended every year since they commenced over nine years ago, but a commitment is a commitment and like many a GAA person I have always endeavoured never to let down a club, big or small.

St. Gall’s are no ordinary club. Indeed they could claim to be Ireland’s most successful club in 2010. They won the All-Ireland SFC club title and the All-Ireland sevens while they also contested the All-Ireland IHC club final. Their ladies also qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final and they have enjoyed great success in handball as well.

Better that if you can!

St. Gall’s is based on the Glen Road in West Belfast. Their facilities, which I had the honour of opening as my very first function as GAA President in 2003, adjoins Milltown Cemetery, where many of their members are buried, some as a result of the Troubles.

Most in the south don’t realise the pressure GAA clubs in this area came under during such times when their innocent members were harassed, intimidated and indeed killed because of their allegiance to the Association.

It was a brave and visionary leadership that steered a safe passage for the GAA through these difficult times.

During those years St. Gall’s chairman and secretary were Liam Steward and Vincent Ward. They gave exemplary steady and brave leadership and out of the troubled times they laid the foundation for the remarkable progress the club made.

Throughout the six counties there are many great GAA people, who are unknown outside their own communities, who have performed heroically in a voluntary capacity for club and country throughout their lives.

The following night I was in Passage East GAA club in Waterford for the golden jubilee celebrations of this tremendous club. Not only were they celebrating 50 years but also the wonderful successes of their two inter-county stars Eoin Kelly and Noel Connors with Waterford this year. On this occasion so many people turned up that the hotel had to set out extra tables – a healthy situation for any club.

Passage went to the county semi-final this year being beaten by eventual winners De La Salle. If the spirit and determination and undoubted support I witnessed on Saturday night prevails, the big break through at county championship level can’t be far away.

When that happens the Woodlands Hotel will have to build an extension to hold the crowds that will want to partake in the celebrations! No wonder the GAA is still the greatest organisation in the country.

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