THIS used to be the time of year when, after an inauspicious league campaign, the rest of the country were suspicious of an under-performing Meath.
They'd be accused of 'lying in the long grass' along with various other euphemisms that meant 'write off Meath at your peril.'
How things have changed. The Royals are a Division 3 side and on form couldn't claim to be any higher than the top six teams in Leinster and last night Seamus McEnaney was given just over five weeks to save his job when 31 votes went his way, five more than he needed.
Still, Meath are already being talked about as the first Goliath of the summer to fall with Wicklow's Leighton Glynn honest enough to admit this week that what was happening in the Royal county wouldn't do his side "any harm" when they meet in the championship at the end of May.
Two camera crews and 20 journalists from various outlets were present in Aras Tailteann last night.
The first official action of the night was for county chairman Barney Allen to inform delegates that there would be a slight delay in proceedings as a number of delegates were running late.
The mood was grim at that stage, the room filled with silver heads and furrowed brows who could now see all too clearly the problem the county finds itself in. A specially convened county board meeting to determine who should manage the senior team with the championship just weeks away has the ability to do that.
Strangely though, the night started on a note of levity. Allen asked for phones to be switched off and warned delegates they had "two minutes to get them off".
However, the fireworks didn't take long to ignite. Allen first moved to clear up Sean Boylan's position. Delegates were informed that Boylan had, in fact, not resigned from his role as director of football but had merely reduced his role to be involved in underage development squads. The chairman stated he "regretted" any misunderstanding, but stopped short of a full apology.
The mood soured thereafter as people sought clarification on the extent of Boylan's role. Carnaross' Eugene Comaskey accused the chairman of trying to make him look "like a fool" when he asked about Boylan's position at the last meeting.
Finally, at 8.28pm, Allen read out the recommendation to remove McEnaney. Secretary Cyril Creavin swiftly apologised to both the club and media and stated he had been informed there would be one motion -- to remove McEnaney and install Boylan -- up for voting, though he had since learned they would be dealt with as two separate issues.
Allen insisted he lay awake the night after the Louth game and was "very concerned about the state of Meath football". Others queried the legality of proposing a manager without giving the clubs a chance to deliver their own nominations, while another delegate reminded the clubs they had effectively brought this situation on themselves when they opted to oust Eamonn O'Brien after the 2010 campaign. The elephant in the room was being left to his own devices for the time being.
Another delegate asked if there would be "financial implications" if there was a change of management but treasurer Pat Clerkin insisted that only expenses were paid and that if there was no travel, no monies would change hands. Some spoke against McEnaney, others spoke in his favour to small ripples of applause, but, at that stage, it was impossible to know if enough pairs of hands came together in those moments to secure his future.
It was messy, unorganised and achieved very little and it was 9.15pm before the clubs' role call. The slips of paper had boxes with 'yes' and 'no' typed on them. There were 74 votes in the room meaning McEnaney needed 26 votes to survive. When it was all tallied up, he had a little breathing space, a novel feeling for the Monaghan man since he took the job and he leads Meath into the 2012 championship campaign.
A round of applause rippled around the room when one delegate called for full support for the team and all attention turns to Carlow and the clash with Wicklow on May 27.
'Banty' and the players have time to restore some pride but the clock is already ticking and the eyes of the country will be on Meath once more.