Former Meath football boss Andy McEntee has opened up about the online attacks and the poison pen letters which he was subjected to by people who “haven’t the b**** to put their names to it” during his six years at the helm with the Royals.
McEntee’s reign concluded in the wake of Meath’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier defeat to Clare earlier this month with plenty of online abuse thrown his way, as well as in the direction of his son and team captain Shane, after his resignation was tendered.
While the elder McEntee is not on social media and tries to ignore it, his son Shane set the record straight to trolls about paying for his own flights home from Mali – where the Irish Defence Forces Lieutenant was working as part of an EU training mission – to represent his county against Dublin last month.
While speaking to BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘The GAA Social’ in a powerful interview, McEntee Snr confirmed that he “never sought or received a penny” for his time as Meath boss, despite the claims which some people threw his way.
“We’ve all been in situations ... I’ve certainly been in situations where you say something off the top of your head, you fly off the handle but to sit down and think about something and write it, that takes a bit of effort,” McEntee said of the online trolls.
“All I’d say is think about it twice before you blurt something out there because once it’s out there, it’s out there. First of all think about the accuracy of it.
“I saw something else, someone else suggesting, which surprised me, about my time being up and someone else comes in saying ‘he was well paid for his time’.
“That annoyed me because I never sought or received a penny from the Meath county board. That sort of s**** gets to ya. That was never my motivation for it and it hasn’t been for any of the jobs that I’ve ever taken, it’s (money) never been the motivation.”
McEntee fought back the tears when speaking openly about the loss of his older brother Shane 10 years ago, with the then Minister for Agriculture dying by suicide in December 2012.
“You never really know – I was at lunch with him the day before (he died) – myself and Catherine my wife, and Shane and Kathleen (Shane’s wife). Catherine and Shane’s birthdays were close enough together so we got into the habit of going to lunch around about that time,” a teary McEntee said.
“He was in bad form. I knew and I remember saying it to him that he was in bad form and he didn’t want to talk about it. It’s hard to know. I mean it really is hard to know but I don’t think we’ll ever get to the real bottom of it.”
McEntee spoke of how nobody knows what other people are going through mentally at a given time and his view that social media is giving “faceless” people the chance to say whatever they like to anybody “without fear of contradiction”.
“It’s too easy, this option to go out there and throw out your opinion. Who are these people? They’ve never been asked their opinion or been asked anything serious in their lives and all of a sudden they have a platform to throw out whatever they like without fear of contradiction.
“You can’t take it back, you can delete a tweet but it’s out there. It’s just too easy and most of them are faceless. They haven’t the b**** to put their names to it. A bit like the letters I would have gotten in the post, bogus names attached to it.
“So at times it’s easy to say ‘who are they, they’re irrelevant’ but it’s still out there and still is hurtful. Certainly with Shane (his brother), there was a lot of criticism aimed at the government, maybe not at Shane personally, and he would have found that tough enough to deal with at the time.”
While highlighting the negativity regularly aimed at him, McEntee was keen to point out that the majority of feedback he received from Meath fans, both far and wide, was positive and that “for all the bad, there’s tonnes more good”.
McEntee does feel that social media is helping to push managers away from inter-county jobs, though.
“One of the problems with all of the social media attention is that it (inter-county management) is becoming less and less attractive unless of course you’re getting well paid for it.
“Yes, there are good days and the good days are great, but you have to weigh it up and think is it worth all of this?
“There’s an awful lot of lads both in club and county saying that the balance is wrong at the moment.”