Canavan: Geraghty gamble could cost Banty job

PETER CANAVAN has warned that Seamus McEnaney “could pay the ultimate price” if Meath lose to Kildare on Sunday as a consequence of his decision to recall the 38-year-old Graham Geraghty to the Royals panel.

Meath’s preparations were shaken by the decision of McEnaney’s two Meath-born selectors, Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan, to stand down after the SOS was sent to the 1999 All-Ireland winning captain.

Much has been made of Geraghty’s age but Canavan, who was three years younger when he retired, believes there are other, more pertinent issues raised by recent events.

“The alarming bit is that people in Meath would tell you that he isn’t playing that well and that he hasn’t been standing out — and that is at an intermediate club — that there are maybe more established players like Trevor Giles who are playing at a higher standard.

“It isn’t so much the age thing but the fact that (McEnaney) has gone against the inside men in the county who have been watching Geraghty and know exactly what Geraghty is doing. That has been the strangest aspect to the decision.

“It is a serious gamble and one that, if Meath don’t win on Sunday, he could pay the ultimate price.”

As Canavan added, McEnaney has been no stranger to controversial decisions and thrust full-back Darren Hughes between the sticks against Armagh before his reserve keeper.

That paid off for ‘Banty’ as Monaghan trounced Armagh and Fermanagh with Hughes in goal before turning to a more conventional choice for the provincial decider, which they lost convincingly to Tyrone.

The recent decision to bring Geraghty back into the fold is almost as bizarre given the quality forwards Meath have at their disposal but Canavan believes the late call-up exposes a more worrying shortcoming in the squad’s DNA.

“I think it all comes back to the decision of the Meath players last summer not to offer Louth a replay because that was a decision that should have been made by the players. They should have insisted that a replay be offered as there was no doubt as to who deserved to win the Leinster title.

“The players as a group showed a serious lack of leadership at that stage and they have been paying the price ever since. The fact that Seamus McEnaney feels the need to bring in a past All-Ireland winning captain like Geraghty into the squad would be a further indication that there is a lack of leadership within the squad and he is not happy with that.”

Leadership is definitely not something his own county lack. While Monaghan have lost a rump of players from the panel at the one time this season, Canavan admits such a wholesale and painful transition will eventually face Tyrone.

“That’s a problem that lies ahead but not this year. That is something that is going to happen in the next few years because there are so many of them that have come through at the same time and they are of the same age group but at the minute they are all pushing, and pushing hard.

“The team is going to be completely reinvigorated down the line. There is going to be a clearout of the older players and they will have to land a number of younger players in the limelight.

“It is inevitable that is going to happen but I don’t think it is going to happen for a year or two.”

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