Amid Royal rumble, Banty stayed focused

Embattled Meath manager Seamus McEnaney insists he was never distracted from getting his team ready for their Leinster SFC opener against Wicklow on Sunday.

The Corduff native last month refused county chairman Barney Allen’s request to step down from the position, following the team’s relegation to Division 3.

He also survived a vote of no-confidence after the executive failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority backing from the county board.

Throughout the drama, McEnaney continued to attend club games in the county and also took in Wicklow’s final Division 4 round game against Clare in Aughrim.

“For me, I only had one ambition and that was getting the team prepared for the Wicklow game,” McEnaney told the Irish Examiner.

“I never lost a second’s focus on the Wicklow game from seven or eight weeks ago. I never lost one second on Wicklow. Nothing else crossed my mind.”

McEnaney refused to comment on his relationship with Allen and the vote of no confidence, which revealed a simple majority of delegates against him staying in the role.

The Monaghan man also wouldn’t say that the ordeal has brought the management and players closer together.

However, he said they are all determined to push away the disappointment of dropping from Division 2 by winning their first game since February in Dr Cullen Park on Sunday.

“We’ve got on with our job, players and management alike. Thankfully, we’ve got the time and space to do that and we’re happy with our preparations.

“We’ve been focusing on nothing else over the last four weeks.

“We came back three weeks ago, four weeks prior to the Championship, and we had the full complement of players back training.

“We were fortunate with two rounds of the club championship over, just after the end of the league. “We were able to get the players fully focused on Wicklow for the past four weeks. That has been a help.

“Our concentration is trying to get the best performance possible from this Meath team. To maximise potential within the group. For the Wicklow game, we are absolutely focused.”

McEnaney confirmed Joe Sheridan, who returned home from Boston earlier this month after departing for the US city in March, will feature in Carlow: “I think it would be fair to say he’ll be starting.”

Player-selector Graham Geraghty is ruled out through injury as are long-term casualties Shane O’Rourke, Mark Ward, Cormac McGuinness and Gary O’Brien.

McEnaney is full of praise for former Tipp manager John Evans, who he convinced to join him as team coach earlier this month.

“I felt we needed to freshen up training and a new voice and I have a serious respect for John Evans.

“People probably don’t realise Tipperary won Munster titles at U16, 17, 18 and 21 beating Cork and Kerry in 2011 at minor. They won all those Munster titles under or with the help of John Evans and we felt we could freshen up the coaching team.

“I love his enthusiasm and passion for the game. He’s a fantastic coach and he exactly fitted the bill in the climate I was looking for at training.”

Having studied Wicklow closely over the last few weeks, McEnaney is aware how much of a challenge he and his team are facing in four days time.

“This a Wicklow team that have had a serious record all year and had a fantastic National Football League.

“They’re after winning their last six games in a row. In contrast, we lost five in a row. They’re coming in on a high and Harry Murphy has done a serious job with them.

“We feel this will be a huge challenge from an in-form Wicklow team and I’m confident of getting a really good performance out of the Meath team this weekend.

“Even if it takes us across the line by the minimum, that’s okay with me.”

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