It is nine weeks since the proposal to retain Eamonn O’Brien as boss was rejected by club delegates and though McEnaney has been the most likely contender since then, the apparently inevitable appointment seemed to hit a stumbling block due to Meath’s history of never having appointed a non-native to the role.
There were concerns too about the level of expenses that might be involved, with McEnaney, Paul Grimley and Martin McElkennon all travelling from Ulster. But county treasurer Pat Clerkin revealed ‘Banty’ had met him armed with all the figures to put those worries to rest. McEnaney remained silent throughout the protracted process, as local luminaries such as ex-legendary player Colm O’Rourke, former boss Eamonn Barry and the Monaghan man’s primary opponent, Gerry Cooney, weighed into the debate.
His candidacy was finally rubber-stamped by a significant majority of delegates (53-19) on Wednesday night and the former Farney manager revealed he had always been aware of the enormity of the decision facing the board.
“I certainly studied form before I decided to let my name go forward for this Meath job” said McEnaney on RTÉ Radio. “I knew this is a huge decision for the county board, the clubs of Meath and the people of Meath to go outside to pick a manager. Certainly there has been a slight bit of controversy” he admitted. “I never got involved. This is the first time I spoke since I officially left my name go forward. I had no concerns going into the meeting. I was confident the Meath clubs were going to back the management committee’s recommendation.”
Now he has been entrusted with the onus of making Meath genuine and consistent contenders for All-Ireland honours, McEnaney is anxious to get cracking. His enthusiasm for the job was described as akin to that of revered former manager, Seán Boylan’s, and with McElkennon, Grimley and ex-Royal star Liam Harnan, as well as one other selector from Meath joining forces with him, he is ready to go.
“I respect the opinion of Meath people that didn’t want to go outside Meath for a team manager; I totally respect that” said McEneaney. “But what I will be saying now is we need to get on with the job. The most important thing is the future of Meath football.
“I have brought with me a very high standard of backroom team, especially Liam Harnan, a legend in Meath. Liam Harnan is exactly today like he was (as a player) in the ‘80s. (He has) a no-nonsense approach, no grey area, you know where you stand. I’m looking forward to working with Liam Harnan, the rest of my backroom team, and this group of players.”
McEnaney was appointed for a three-year term with a review to take place at the end of two years. It is understood Harnan, currently overseeing Skryne’s Leinster run, will take over at the end of that period.