Mick O'Dowd has taken aim at former Meath stars for "sickening" criticism of current Royal County players.
When he stepped down as Meath manager following the recent All-Ireland SFC qualifier defeat against Derry, O’Dowd hit out at “overpaid, inflated egos acting as pundits that are just ripping decent people in the GAA apart.”
And in a lengthy interview with local radio station LMFM, O’Dowd stood over his comments and accused ex-players of taking “the high moral ground.”
Meath are well-represented in media circles as All-Ireland winners Colm O'Rourke and Bernard Flynn are both RTÉ pundits.
And O’Dowd appears to have directed his criticism at them by stating: “When you get into the role, and you invest so much of your life and time in it, you get a thick skin about all of that but you’re dealing with players who are in the development stage of their careers, in their early 20s.
“They’re investing so much of their lives in it, doing exams and Masters, or starting in their careers, (and) it’s a little bit sickening to hear some former players, who were very good players, possibly, but lucky to be part of a team at the right time that came together.
“Now they take the moral high ground on a lot of individuals putting so much of their time into the game.
“It was more for the players really than myself but I have heard other managers being vilified by people.
“I just don’t think it’s right. It’s an amateur organisation but we’re close to the UK and the Premiership, where people are on highly-inflated salaries over there.
“Has that culture drifted across to the GAA? I think it has and it’s not something I’d be happy to see.
“It’s so prevalent now and there are so many opinions on everything. Fans are entitled to go to games and discuss the games and absolutely that’s part of sport.
“They want to see the game analysed and discussed and there’s nothing wrong with that but when it starts getting into individuals, it’s going too far.”
Dowd also revealed that when he took over from Seamus McEnaney as manager in 2012, he was shocked by what he inherited.
He said: “To be honest, in those early months, I couldn’t believe the state the Meath squad was in physically and mentally.
“There could have been 12 or 13 players having operations. Some of the older players spoke about how they were fragile…there was too much change of management and no settled culture inside the Meath dressing room.
“That impacted on very good Meath footballers that had come through in the previous 8-10 year period. That initial period was a shock to the system but we regrouped well and got the team back into Division 2.
“We competed very well with Dublin in the 2013 Leinster final and even better against Tyrone in that qualifier match. But for a couple of extremely harsh refereeing decisions, (that) could have led us to a quarter-final.”