Meath's 2016 Christy Ring Cup-winning captain James Toher has revealed that he's 'gutted' to have been dumped from the Royals' hurling panel, and elaborated on the cruel manner in which he was informed of the Meath management's decision.
After six years of service to the county hurlers, Toher learned he had been axed from the squad via text message, with manager Martin Ennis and his selectors announcing they'd no longer be accommodating dual players following their Division 1B final victory over Wicklow.
Meath - in their healthiest position in years as a hurling team - will return to the Senior Hurling Championship round robin on May 23rd after over a decade in the doldrums, but will do so without Toher and Irish shinty international Mickey Burke. Both men opted to represent the footballers in their must-win league clash with Clare as opposed to the hurlers for a comparatively less important game with Wicklow at Parnell Park, and as a result are no longer part of the hurling squad.
In an exclusive statement to Fergal Lynch in The Meath Chronicle, Toher revealed his devastation both at being cut from the hurling panel, and the means with which he learned of Martin Ennis' decision:
To say I was disappointed to receive a text message at 11pm on the Sunday night after we returned home from the NFL Div 2 game against Clare in Ennis dropping me from the squad would be an understatement.
After six years of total dedication to Meath hurling, both on and off the field, I was gutted to be told the news, particularly by text message.
The NFL Div 2 game against Clare was a must-win for the Meath footballers in the fight for promotion.
It was the toughest decision I've ever had to make in sport, but I feel I made the right call and thankfully the results proved that.
It's unfortunate that the statement about being dropped was released after the game last week at all as it distracted from the importance of the hurlers win.
A lot of things have happened behind closed doors this year that I never experienced before.
A lot of sacrifices have been made by people, not only within the squad, but by the families, friends and partners.
Players have put their careers on hold and their social lives can be non-existent at times, all with the aim of furthering Meath.
So for any player to be accused of not being committed is not only unjustified, it's highly insulting.
Mickey Burke, meanwhile, spoke to David Sheehan on LMFM last week and was more magnanimous towards the hurling management despite his disappointment in being cut from the panel.
Toher's full statement, which is far more strongly-worded, can be read on The Meath Chronicle, who also broke the story of Ennis' decision following the hurlers victory over Wicklow.