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If McEntee is voted out by the clubs tonight, where does that leave Meath?

Creating a vacancy at this stage of the season would be far from ideal for the county.

Meath manager Andy McEntee.
Meath manager Andy McEntee.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

ANDY MCENTEE’S FUTURE as Meath manager will be decided at an emergency county board meeting in Trim tonight. 

The Knightsbrook Hotel is the venue where Meath’s 59 clubs and 16 board officials will take a vote on whether to keep McEntee in charge for a sixth campaign. 

Given Meath’s championship ended in July and we’re now well into October, it’s a surprise that his future is up for debate at this stage of the year. 

McEntee has been in charge of Meath since the 2017 season. In September 2019, he was handed a three-year extension, subject to a review at the end of the second season.

After presenting that review to the Meath executive committee at the end of last month, all the signs pointed to the former All-Ireland winning Ballyboden St Enda’s manager remaining in charge for the final year of his term.  

However, when the committee subsequently took a secret ballot vote on whether to retain the 2016 All-Ireland winning club boss, officials went 8-7 against McEntee. 

It means that the Meath top table will put that decision to clubs at tonight’s meeting, with the delegates set to vote on whether or not to back the executive committee’s recommendation to bring an end to his tenure after five seasons. 

McEntee informed the local media last week that he intends to remain in charge if he gets the backing of the clubs. His backroom team of Mark Brennan, Paul Nestor and Colm Nally are already on board for 2022, while former Armagh and Derry coach John McCloskey will join the set-up.

McEntee needs to avoid a two-thirds majority vote against him tonight to keep his job. 

Meath clubs have a history of voting against the executive committee in the past. A similar move against Eamonn O’Brien at the end of 2010 (the year he led the Royals to a Leinster title) was not backed by clubs.

Midway through 2012 a proposal to remove Seamus ‘Banty’ McEnaney as manager was also unsuccessful. 

If the clubs do decide against retaining McEntee, Meath will be left manager-less at a time when their rivals have already put plans in place for next season. 

There’s no stand-out replacement for the job and his successor would be under immense time pressure with the 2022 season looming large. 

Players have already been given conditioning programmes to work on and the county championship has reached the semi-final stage, given the new incumbent little time to assess the playing pool in the county.

This all comes after an air of positivity had swept over the county in recent months and they appeared to be getting their house in order.

A promising group of players have started to emerge from underage ranks. Meath minors have won three of the last four Leinster crowns, with the most recent crop enjoying All-Ireland glory in August.

The county recently appointed former Australian Super Rugby strength and conditioning coach Barry Horgan as general manager to oversee the physical development of underage squads. 

Last month, Meath ladies denied Dublin the five-in-a-row and claimed the first Brendan Martin Cup in their history following a dramatic rise from intermediate ranks. 

However, it hasn’t been all plain sailing. Back in June U20 boss Bernard Flynn resigned just weeks out from the start of their Leinster championship following a row with McEntee over player access.

On the field, Meath lost out on promotion to Division 1 after losing a play-off to Kildare, before they ran Dublin close in the Leinster semi-final.

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McEntee previously led the Royals to provincial finals in 2019 and 2020, both of which they lost heavily to Dublin, while they ended a 13-year wait for top flight football when they achieved promotion from Division 2 in 2019.

The physical development of the Meath players has been one notable aspect of McEntee’s reign. It’s an area that often separates the top teams from the rest and his decision to bring former Munster back-row Niall Ronan on board as S&C coach aided their maturation in that respect. 

Meath have generally looked on on upward trajectory under McEntee, despite his reign coinciding with Dublin’s all-conquering side. 

The fact his son Shane is the current Meath captain complicates the matter further. If Meath clubs don’t back the manager to stay on, it remains to be seen whether the playing group make their feelings publicly known.

If Meath were to create a vacancy, they’ll join Wicklow, Waterford, Longford, Laois, Down and Cork in that regard.

Billy Sheehan is awaiting ratification in Laois and Keith Ricken is considered the favourite to get the Cork job.

Andy Moran (Leitrim), Jack O’Connor (Kerry) and Glenn Ryan (Kildare) recently filled slots but Meath may create another tonight.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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