For a change it’s not the GAA in Donegal that’s grabbed the attention of the national media. This time it’s the turn of Meath and Cavan who have been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons, in my view.
In Cavan after they finished their National League campaign the players, with the blessing of the county board and the manger, held a meeting where they gave their personal view on how the season had gone. Apparently a majority of the players were unhappy at their manager and voted for a change of management. Their manager, Val Andrews, a former Leinster and Dublin minor football manager and a very respected coach, resigned. He was thanked for his contribution to football in Cavan and they wished him all the best for the future.
I’m sure it was all heartfelt, but is it now the job of county boards to get rid of a manager because a group of players hold a specific view about how the manager is performing and it doesn’t fit their plans?
Is it a sign of weakness of the officers of county board that they couldn’t stand behind their decision to give the man the job at the start of the year and then let the players dictate that he should go?
I suspect when Andrews saw that he hadn’t the backing of the players then he decided to go; he would have seen what happened when the Cork and Limerick hurlers and the Fermanagh footballers turned on their manager and the damage it did so he took a decision that made life easier for everyone, except maybe himself.
Then we cross the border into Meath where the county management committee recommended that Seamus McEnaney’s tenure as manger be terminated with immediate effect. They were unhappy that Meath had been relegated to Division Three of the National League, the first time in their illustrious history and they publicly announced that a replacement had been lined up (Sean Boylan) knowing that the Meath GAA public would be right behind the decision to get rid of McEnaney.
However, McEnaney is not one for walking away from a fight. He insisted he wanted to see his two year contract through and he had the backing of the players and would not be walking away.
McEnaney has always been one of those characters that the GAA is all about; he wears his heart on his sleeve and says it how it is; no bull - something of a dying breed in these days of being politically correct and all that.
What gets me about this situation is that the people who give ‘Banty’ (as McEnaney is affectionately knows as) the job in the first place seem to be making him the scapegoat for the team getting relegated and this is their way of making sure that the egg is not on their face when it comes to being re-elected.
The players have held there court but have not come out against their manager which shows to me that they know exactly who’s responsible for the way their season has gone so far and that is themselves.
From what you can gather from the Meath public I think they feel they’re too good for Division Three and once Boylan’s name was mentioned as getting involved again they got right behind it but like the carry on of the Leinster final a few years ago where the majority of people were of the view that they should have offered Louth a replay after what happened at the end of the game there will be little sympathy for them.
I don’t know either Val Andrews or Seamus McEnaney and I don’t pretend to know what has gone on behind the scenes but I think both men have been treated appallingly. If this is the way managers are going to be treated in the future where they could be judged on a game to game basis and the decision of a match official could unknowingly cost them their jobs and reputation, we are at a crossroads.
If this trend was to continue then we will see those who are good enough to manage at the top level seeking binding contracts and, dare I say it, payment.