SEAMUS McENANEY has vowed to fight for his future as Meath football manager - and he may have to after his free-falling Royals slumped to a fifth consecutive NFL defeat and straight through the relegation trap-door.
With the grim spectre of Division Three football now a 2013 reality, the perennially embattled 'Banty' is bound to come under renewed local pressure to preserve his position for the Leinster championship.
It's doubtful whether the Meath executive would instigate any mid-season heave, but the manner of yesterday's 2-14 to 1-8 humiliation at home to arch-rivals Louth is sure to up the ante for the Monaghan native.
McEnaney delivered some fighting talk after the Páirc Tailteann debacle -- far more than his team who trailed by a disastrous 12 points at half-time and finished with 13 men after both midfielders, Brian Meade and Mark Ward, received second yellows during the second half.
"I have been involved in a lot of fights in my life, in my business, personal life, in my family and in football. I have never walked away from a fight in my life. This is a fight and it is a fight we have to get on with," he declared.
But McEnaney also admitted: "It is the manager's job to get the best out of his players. I'm not getting the best out of them at the moment. The players are giving everything they can in training, we are just not playing as well as we can."
Louth needed victory to ensure their Division Two survival, but yesterday meant even more to manager Peter Fitzpatrick, who admitted: "That buries the Leinster final of 2010. It is alright saying it now but that match really, really set us back. But this performance puts it to bed."
Compounding Meath's plight is that they actually started this campaign with back-to-back victories, lifting some of the pressure that besieged their manager throughout his controversial debut season. Since losing narrowly to Kildare, however, performances have got worse with every defeat. Meath's relegation fate (alongside Monaghan) was sealed by a remarkable Westmeath comeback in Mullingar, the home side recovering from seven points adrift to blitz 14-man Derry by 1-15 to 0-10.
Elsewhere, though, it was a deflating afternoon for two more Leinster counties: Laois lost their top-flight status after just one season when losing at home to Down by 2-11 to 0-10, while Offaly face the ignominy of Division Four after losing away to an already-relegated Tipperary, 0-11 to 0-8.