DEPOSED Meath boss Eamonn O’Brien last night insisted he and his players were willing to replay last July’s controversial Leinster final against Louth if ordered to do so but claimed the issue of a replay was one that GAA authorities should have decided on rather than the Royals players and management.
“The matter of a replay was pushed onto Meath in my view,” he said.
“I said it to our chairman that if a replay was ordered, Meath would have been there to play it.
“But I don’t think it was fair to ask Meath and it wasn’t a decision for Meath players to make. It was not for our players to get involved in making decisions in the running of the organisation. My job is to manage teams, players job is to play and it’s other people’s to make decisions. They’re the people who should have made that decision. If we were asked to do so, we were ready to play.
“Obviously the circumstances in which we won that game were not ideal or satisfactory and were bizarre.
“I suppose when you’re involved, you don’t want to make any comment. We’d a situation the previous year where Kerry were awarded a very dubious penalty and in the Dublin game, the referee played five minutes short. I’m sure if a replay was ordered by Leinster Council or Croke Park, you’d have had two or three more games in the championship replayed. These things happen.”
O’Brien, speaking on RTÉ Radio, expressed his disappointment at the decision of Meath county board delegates on Monday night to not ratify his tenure for a third year and revealed that he is unlikely to manage at intercounty level again.
“It’s hard to say never but I don’t think in the foreseeable future that’s an option. I was disappointed given where I was coming from. You don’t grow a team in two years and there’s a process needed to bring a team together. If I thought that it was an issue and I could have allayed their fears, I would have no difficulty in going in front of the people. In hindsight maybe that’s something that could have been done.”
O’Brien believes criticism over the lack of substitutions he made in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kildare was not a strong enough reason to conclude his tenure.
“I have to make those calls. It’s easy for people in hindsight sitting in the stands or commentators. Some days you get them right and some don’t. If you look at the record over the two years, and I’m not claiming all the credit, it’s a collective effort. We played 13 championship games, won nine, drew one and lost three. That isn’t a bad record.”
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