Monday 23 October 2017

McEnaney forced to play waiting game

Seamus McEnaney. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Seamus McEnaney. Photo: Oliver McVeigh / Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

THE Meath GAA's management committee has sought more time to consider the recommendation that Seamus McEnaney should be the county's next football manager.

McEnaney's was the majority choice of the three-man committee tasked with interviewing interested candidates over the last number of weeks, but his appointment has not yet been confirmed.

The management committee met for up to four hours on Monday night and, after reaching no conclusion, they adjourned until tomorrow night to give the matter further consideration.

In the meantime, a County Board meeting which was to seek approval from club delegates for the new manager, due to take place tonight, has been postponed. It will now take place next Wednesday.

The delay comes as McEnaney added one of the county's greatest footballers, Martin O'Connell, to his ticket.

O'Connell will join former team-mate Liam Harnan, Paul Grimley and Martin McElkennon on the back-room team if McEnaney is eventually given the green light.

The St Michael's clubman is one of only two Meath players to have won three All-Ireland medals and was a half-back colleague of Harnan on the 1987/88 All-Ireland-winning teams. He was also selected on the GAA's 'Team of the Millennium' at left half- back.

The addition of O'Connell provides a further 'greening' of McEnaney's team and will help to dilute the perception of 'outsiders' taking over the team. It is understood that is something which concerns some members of both the management committee County Board.

But the delay in accepting the recommendation of the three-man committee -- which comprised county chairman Barney Allen, former All-Ireland-winning captain Joe Cassells and the former Disputes Resolution Committee secretary Liam Keane -- will potentially test the resolve of the McEnaney team to stay together this week. McEnaney was not available for comment last night.

It is understood that the management committee will seek more information from McEnaney about aspects of his preparations and the workings of his back-room team before reaching a decision.

Only two years ago Luke Dempsey, the current Carlow manager, was the recommendation of a five-man committee that was set up to find a replacement for Colm Coyle.

But when his name was put before the County Board, it wasn't accepted because one of the five-man committee had apparently not been present when the group had met with Dempsey.

Dempsey didn't stick around to fight it out and was highly critical of both the process and officers of the Board who were central to the collapse of his potential appointment.

A scaled-down three-man committee then recommended Eamonn O'Brien. His appointment was passed unanimously and he led the county to an All-Ireland semi-final and quarter-final in successive years before being removed by club delegates.

It had looked for a period last week that Gerry Cooney would be the preferred choice to take over because of a reluctance to go 'outside' for a manager for the first time.

Cooney had assembled three current club managers -- including Darren Fay, the former full-back, who has been in charge of Trim -- to assist him.


However, further interviews, which took place late last week, put the former Monaghan manager back in the driving seat.

Meath are one of six counties that have never looked beyond its own county boundaries for a manager. Cork, Down, Dublin, Kerry and Tyrone are the other five.

The postponement of tonight's Board meeting for a further seven days means that the process of finding a new manager will drag on into a 10th week.

O'Brien lost a vote of confidence on September 6 and, since then, the task of replacing him has not been carried out swiftly.

Whoever is installed next week -- and McEnaney still remains the favourite, despite clear opposition at management level to him -- will have little time to get pre-season preparations up and running before collective training is permitted again on January 1.

Meath are currently the only county without a football manager.

There has been speculation that the management committee would seek to put the names of both McEnaney and Cooney to the full County Board meeting for a decision, but that is unlikely to happen, given that the three-man committee have already performed their task in bringing forward a recommendation.

Irish Independent

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