Meath manager Andy McEntee has dominated the GAA news cycle this week over his alleged vitriolic outburst towards a local reporter.
The Meath Chronicle reported on Tuesday that McEntee told one of their reporters that he would “take the f**king head off” him if he saw him near the dressing room again. The outburst occurred while the reporter was interviewing Meath players having earlier questioned McEntee whether members of the panel would be released to play club hurling the following week.
While there has been much outright condemnation of McEntee’s behaviour, Kieran Donaghy took a somewhat differing view on Thursday’s Shot Clock.
While saying that McEntee’s behaviour was “obviously wrong”, Donaghy criticised the journalist’s approach considering McEntee’s side had just been duly beaten in a Leinster final, scoring only four points in the process.
“It’s bad timing for that question. There's a time and a place, I think, for that question. Does he really need to find out right there and then off the Meath manager, who is after losing a Leinster final, can players play in a club hurling game next week?
“It’s a bad question, it's bad timing. Could Andy McEntee have held his tongue and reacted better? Course.”
“But he comes out and he sees the same guy who asked that stupid question, which he thinks is a ridiculous question because he said that. Now, he sees him talking to a few of his players and he’s like: ‘what question is he asking these guys is he asking them about hurlers? Are they gonna give an answer?’”
Donaghy didn’t defend McEntee but sought to highlight how in the heat of the moment and after the game that had just been he could understand the circumstances that drove the defeated manager to that point.
Meanwhile, Ger Gilroy argued that the reporter was just doing his job and the whole situation could have been resolved by McEntee after the game.
"I know he's doing his job but you can say that the manager is doing his job protecting the players”, Donaghy responded.
“We saw that famous Alex Ferguson one with John Motson and Roy Keane. And Ferguson jumped down his throat because he was protecting his player.
“If I'm ever in that position I might try to handle it slightly better. But, was he looking for a reaction? Did he know it would strike a chord with McEntee?” Donaghy questioned with a pause.
Donaghy also rejected Gilroy’s claim that the Meath Public Relations Officer needed to tell McEntee what to do.
“He's obviously a very fiery character. We are talking about taking characters out of the game now. We don’t want all robots. Those were his feelings he felt very frustrated after the game. It’s fine for you to say: ‘hold on a minute Andy, relax you're after losing your knockout game the referee made a few mistakes.’”
“What I think is he opened that [dressing room] door and he saw [the reporter again and saw] red again and obviously what he said then was wrong.”