Thursday 14 December 2017

McEnaney to decide on future

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

IT certainly wasn't the first time this year that 'Banty' found himself with his back to the wall, but just as he had done during the turbulence of last April when some Royal bigwigs wanted him out, he told it as he saw it.

Coralled against the wall outside the dressing-room in O'Connor Park by a media posse, Seamus McEnaney folded his arms and gave his version of events as Meath's strange season finally ended.

No, he wouldn't be announcing anything about his future. Yes, he was very disappointed that Meath's 2012 adventure hadn't taken them back to Croke Park for the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

No, he wasn't blaming the six-day turnaround for the defeat. Yes, he was proud of the Meath players and all his back-room team. Most of all, he wanted to stress that Meath's future is bright.

"No doubt about it. Meath started with four players today from the Leinster final two years ago. That's an 11-player turnaround.

"The one thing I'll say about these young fellas -- they will do anything for a manager. I'm proud of them and of the management team; I'm proud of the young lads coming through. Meath is back with a fighting spirit," he said.

And so the key question. Will he feature in Meath's future?

"This evening is not the time to be making decisions like that," he said, before promising an early announcement.

"All I'll say is that my decision will be swift in the next five days. You won't be hearing it today."

It was difficult to escape the feeling that it was Banty's last stand with Meath on a day when they left themselves with far too much to do.

Winning the toss may well have been the match-winner -- a point acknowledged by Laois manager Justin McNulty.

"We had a great start and we had a handsome lead at half-time. You would have to give great credit to Meath, who fought back at us in the second half. They got some good scores and only for some stern defending, they could have stolen it," he said.

The warm glow emanating from the Laois dressing-room was in stark contrast to the chill which swept down the corridor in Longford after the Leinster first-round defeat in May.

Despite that setback, McNulty said the squad never stopped believing. He acknowledged that their qualifier revival was helped by some good draws which allowed them to build up momentum.

"We had a handy enough draw and we haven't met any of the big guns up to now. Monaghan were a bit of a big gun but Meath were the first real one, so the draw favoured us," he said.

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