Kieran McGeeney has backed rival manager Seamus McEnaney on his controversial decision to recall Graham Geraghty to the squad ahead of Sunday's crunch Leinster SFC clash between Kildare and Meath.
Royals boss McEnaney has run a gauntlet of critcism ever since the Monaghan native confirmed that he was bringing the mercurial Geraghty back onto his panel after three years in the inter-county wilderness.
McEnaney's decision to recall 38-year-old Geraghty on the eve of the big clash with Kildare has strongly divided local opinion and is credited with being the final straw for selectors Liam Harnan and Barry Callaghan to walk away.
But Lilies boss McGeeney, who played against Geraghty for Armagh and with him for Ireland in the International Rules series, believes the Meath camp had every right to consider the recall.
"We can't control what happens anywhere else and we'll just look after ourselves. But with Geraghty you have to understand he is a brilliant footballer and if he is playing well, you take him back. I don't think it is a big deal," insists McGeeney.
McGeeney revealed how he saw at first hand Geraghty's ability to still cut it when Kildare played a GAA team of legends late last year in a special tribute match to mark Anthony Rainbow's inter-county retirement.
"Geraghty is a class act. He played against us in a match to honour Anthony Rainbow before Christmas and himself and Peter Canavan were probably the two best players on the pitch," he says.
Sunday's match is Meath's opening game in defence of their Leinster title, won in such controversial fashion against Louth last July, when Joe Sheridan's hotly disputed late goal was allowed to stand.
But in a rare expression of pre-match support for their upcoming opponents, McGeeney says it was wrong for the GAA hierarchy to heap the pressure on the Meath players to offer Louth a replay.
"I thought they were hung out to dry a wee bit. Everybody saw what happened, but it was left to the players and that was unusual. It was the first time I ever saw the players deciding who was going to win or lose a game in a board room and I thought that was unfair and the stick they got afterwards was unfair. Somebody else should have made that decision," he believes.
Kildare dumped Meath out of the championship in an All-Ireland quarter-final last summer and edged a fiery league battle in Newbridge this year where 'Banty' McEnaney and McGeeney went head to head in what the Kildare boss famously dismissed as "belly tickling". He says it won't be an issue this Sunday.
"Banty is a passionate man. If I did anything on the sideline there'd be a lot of people who'd take great delight in sending me away for a long time, so I'll be as good as gold -- or at least I'll try to be," McGeeney added.