O’Brien: I’m shocked
Deposed Meath football manager Eamonn O'Brien spoke last night for the first time since his controversial sacking -- revealing that he would have welcomed an opportunity to address the County Board delegates who voted him out of the position.
A shell-shocked O'Brien admitted he was "surprised" and "disappointed" by the decision of delegates to remove him by 32 votes to 29 on Monday night.
"These things happen. I just have to accept it," said O'Brien, manager for the last two years.
O'Brien said he had met with management committee in recent weeks and had dealt with a number of queries which were raised at that meeting.
These queries would have stemmed from comments made at the previous County Board meeting in August when discontent with the team management first surfaced.
O'Brien said he was satisfied that management had accepted his responses and that he would be unanimously backed at Monday night's meeting.
"Obviously not enough delegates accepted the undertakings given by the management on the issues raised," he said.
"I would have been happy to address the meeting and to answer any queries and concerns delegates would have had."
Some delegates had been critical of the reluctance of management to make changes in the Leinster final or to make switches during the All-Ireland quarter-final against Kildare.
O'Brien said he had to accept the decision of the meeting and felt he had done everything possible during his two-year term.
"We won a Leinster title for the first time in nine years and we beat a Dublin team in the championship for the first time in nine years. But, obviously, these things didn't count for enough. I'd have to say I am very surprised and disappointed."
Already, Royal legend Colm O'Rourke has been installed as bookmakers' favourite at 13/8 to succeed O'Brien, with departed team trainer and selector Sean Kelly also figuring highly in the early running.
O'Rourke, the current U-21 manager, will hardly declare an interest, however, while Kelly is unlikely to do a u-turn, given that it was time constraints which were cited as the reason for his departure.
A name sure to figure is that of Damien Sheridan, father of Joe, who has guided Seneschalstown to two of the last three county titles. They are favourites for this year's title too.
Meath are unlikely to seek a replacement for O'Brien from outside the county given the efforts to keep Luke Dempsey out two years ago.