‘Banty’ on the brink

Meath chairman Barney Allen has refused to confirm that Seamus McEnaney will be in charge for the county’s Leinster SFC first round game against Wicklow on May 27.

A management committee meeting could soon be called to discuss the Monaghan native’s position after the team were relegated to Allianz Football League Division 3 on Sunday.

McEnaney is determined to fight on following the 12-point defeat to fellow Division 2 strugglers Louth.

But when asked if ‘Banty’ would be at the helm for the game in Carlow, Allen declined to comment.

“I’m not going to say too much but things haven’t panned out the way we would have expected,” he said. “We’re disappointed that the team has been going so bad.

“We have to start the work now for Wicklow in the first round of the Leinster championship. That’s the next big test.”

Allen was more forthcoming on how he viewed the defeat in Páirc Tailteann, which sent Meath down to Division 3.

“Sunday was one of the worst displays and on the back of two other bad ones against Derry and Tyrone, it was the third in a row.

“When you’re relegated there will always be talk and pressure. It’s not something any county wants.

“I think it was back in the seventies the last time we were in Division 3. There was a break-up of the divisions into different groups after that but that’s how long ago I think it was.”

The next meeting of the county board may not take place until Monday May 14, although it’s difficult to believe some clubs will keep their silence on McEnaney’s position for that long.

At last September’s board meeting which saw the Corduff man given a second year in charge, a number of delegates spoke against him continuing in the position. Some delegates were aggrieved by Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan’s decisions to resign as selectors in May.

Allen fully anticipates they will express their disgruntlement with the team’s recent run of performances. “Clubs are entitled to bring up issues and I fully expect them to. That’s their right.”

Meanwhile, legendary Meath full-back Mick Lyons dismissed Martin McHugh’s assertion the current county team has gone “soft”.

The Donegal man made the comment on RTÉ’s League Sunday but fabled hard-man Lyons believes Meath’s problems lie elsewhere. He pointed out they no longer have the standard of players to be competing for All-Ireland honours.

“I would say they’re gone soft. There are not enough quality players in Meath to be competing at All-Ireland level — the level Meath people still expect to be competing at. Up to the last few years, there was always a belief that we could get to an All-Ireland final. We mightn’t even get over the first round. Meath people have to realise we’ve a long way to go. It’s a bit like the recession — we’ve to hit rock bottom before we improve.”

Under McEnaney this year, Meath have been attempting to introduce a more possession-driven style of football.

Lyons didn’t attend Sunday’s game in Páirc Tailteann so disenchanted he has become with the inter-county game.

“I don’t like the way the game has gone. I’m not one of these old players who says the game should be like it was back in the Sixties, Seventies or Eighties. I just think the GAA have lost the run of themselves in the rules. There’s more hand-passing in the game than there is kick-passing.

“You no longer have to be a footballer to play Gaelic football, just an athlete. Club football is far more entertaining. The players mightn’t be as talented but at least they’re not fearful of giving possession away.”

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