A few years ago it was Cork, now it is Meath who specialise in internal blood-letting. Whether last Wednesday's vote is merely a temporary truce in a squalid affair remains to be seen. It is hardly a ringing endorsement to keep your job after losing a vote but this is a case where a two-thirds majority, which would go down well in North Korea or China, came back to bite those who see it as important in maintaining the status quo. In point of fact, it is anti-democratic.
Anyway, we are where we are and while the last few weeks have added to the gaiety of the nation, it has shone a light into the internal workings of Meath GAA and it has not been a very positive experience. We are left now with the chairman, Barney Allen, who had wanted to shaft the manager, proclaiming he has no problem working with him. It makes for an uneasy relationship even with the best will in the world on the part of both chairman and manager.
The two groups who have emerged best are the players and probably Seamus McEnaney himself. He kept his counsel and did not get into mud-slinging while the players, who were caught between a rock and a hard place, decided to leave the politics to others. They have faced change after change in management which must leave a scar in itself and now with confidence drained they are the centre of attention again. Those players do not deserve the tag of bringing Meath to an all-time low. That is not true. I played at much worse times with successive first-round defeats in the championship and in lower divisions in the league.
If a decision on this was taken a week earlier, it is unlikely that Banty would have survived but when many club meetings were held on Monday or Tuesday night it became increasingly clear that while there was no great support for the management, there were a lot of people who felt that a bit of common decency was needed and whatever deal was agreed should be honoured.
It was also very clear that few were impressed with the way the county board was handling this whole business. I was glad that the attitude of the club meeting I attended was not to humiliate a man publicly and that nothing seemed to be learned from the treatment of Eamonn O'Brien. The general view was to let things run until the end of the championship and then have a considered view of the future.
It would also be true to say that many felt Seán Boylan became an innocent victim of this saga and it was not right or proper that the county board should use this most honourable man in such a way. As it was, the board were in breach of their own bye-laws in attempting to rush through a new appointment without consultation with the clubs. A case of act in haste, repent at leisure.
Now there is a bit of time, even if Seamus McEnaney's days are numbered anyway, so he could do a few things which would benefit the team in the championship. He needs a few good men to help in preparing this team. He should retain this new low-profile image and bring in someone to help coach the football side of things.
There is a need for a change in the style of play. Maybe it is partly out of fear, lack of confidence or whatever but unless there are variations to the slow handpassing style at present then supporters won't have to put off their holidays for too long. And he needs to discover players with character as much as ability. A tall order in a month but it can be done. The outstanding leadership quality is to take on better men than yourself and trust them to do a job.
On a wider front, the GAA was built on an army of foot soldiers with some great men in authority who had a vision of the future and where to bring their county.
Meath had plenty of those in the past and badly need one now. The next chairman must be a man of substance to bring us forward from a divisive era. He will also need a top-class full-time executive with him to achieve real progress.
Some of the improvements are probably on the way. Targets should be set of 20 games per year for all players from juvenile up and a comprehensive schools competition for each second-level school year to improve fitness and standards during the winter months. Add in a co-ordinated approach to all county sides' training methods and style of play and a couple of years could see massive improvements. And young players need heroes so a successful county side would lift all boats. Takes a bit of organising but the alternative is decay.
It is not too long ago that Cork was convulsed with internal division. From that has grown a county team under Conor Counihan which has been consistent at the top level over the last few years. And a man by the name of James Barry-Murphy has given new hope to the hurlers. Meath have similar potential with the right men in the right jobs.