Royal appointment may be watershed for the association

THANKFULLY the Meath managerial saga came to an end with club delegates voting Seamus McEnaney in as their senior football manager for the next two years.

The nomination of the three-man committee appointed to fill the post was always going to be hard to turn down, especially as that group consisted of the chairman, Barney Allen, former All-Ireland winning captain Joe Cassells and respected solicitor Liam Keane.

If the recommendation of such a respected trio was rejected, Meath were in serious turmoil, especially as the county players seemed to be favourably disposed to McEnaney as manager and his management team.

Those last three words are key. Cassells told delegates that there wasn’t “a better management team” available to them. McEnaney produced a masterstroke by getting Meath legend, Liam Harman on board, especially as he had just guided Skryne to county championship glory. The other pair that made up McEnaney’s backroom are the respected pair of Paul Grimley and Martin McElkennon.

But is this appointment a watershed? Will the emphasis now be on the appointment of a management team rather than a manager? For decades we have cultivated the cult of the manager at all levels in the association. Many weren’t too keen on this ‘soccer-like’ development, preferring the time-honoured ‘trainer’ title.

It is quite possible, henceforth, that it is ‘management teams’ rather than managers we will see appointed. And it is no bad idea.

The other advantage to this system is that the costs can be calculated in advance and budgeted for accordingly. Meath went one step further and announced the figure, €11,000 per month to the county board. I would like to have seen the faces on some of the delegates when this figure was announced. Regardless, this exercise in transparency is to be welcomed. You could write books on all the rumours and speculation regarding payments to managers at club and county level. Some of the figures are probably greatly exaggerated but some, undoubtedly, are based on facts. There has been too much innuendo over this issue for too long. It’s all well and good to say that the accounts are audited and published each year but even the best auditor in the world can’t account for money that hasn’t gone through the system officially.

At least now Meath have put the figures on the table. The pressure is on other counties to follow suit. Meath’s action may well be the start of lifting the lid and bringing real transparency to funding of inter-county management.

Meath may well have done the association some ‘royal’ service.

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Saturday, July 31, 2021

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