Earlier this week, Christy Ring Cup-winning Meath hurling captain James Toher revealed the seemingly cruel way he had been chopped from the squad by his county's hurling management.
After six years of service to the county hurlers, Toher learned of his own axing 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. Toher had instead opted to represent the footballer's in their crucial game with Clare, and so missed the already-promoted hurlers' win over Wicklow.
In a hard-hitting statement released to The Meath Chronicle, the former dual star announced he was gutted by manager Martin Ennis' decision and labeled suggestions that he wasn't committed "unjustified" and "highly insulting," pointing out that he had represented the Royal hurlers for six years.
Meath hurling boss Martin Ennis and his management team, however, have fired back with an extremely strongly-worded statement of their own, which blasts Toher for accusing them of dropping him by text. They also explain that they met with Toher two Fridays before the Wicklow and Clare games and asked him to inform them of his decision as to which game he would play by 8pm the following Sunday evening.
“Hurling management knew deep down what [his decision] was going to be," reads the statement from Meath management.
James, in his statement, mentioned his ‘disgust’ at being dropped by a text. He forgot to mention he had four or five sit-down meetings with full hurling management, four or five meetings with the manager on his own, and countless phonecalls over the period from January-March, when we were looking for him, when he was available etc.
James was told to contact us by 8pm on the Sunday before the league final, after he sorted with football management about availability.
James contacted us and told us that he wouldn’t be available for the league final due to a football league game (Clare) the day after.
It was during that phonecall that James was told that we would be going ahead into Leinster without him.
Rumours arose on the Sunday, after the (Clare) football game, that James was now clear from football and intended to come back in on the following Wednesday.
Martin sent a message that night to thank James for his contribution to the league, and that we were moving on without him.
We wish James every success with the footballers. We understand it’s tough but that’s life and that’s what he chose. We would gladly have kept him in the panel but there has to be some form of give and take — and it was all take. We are there to look after Meath senior hurling as a whole, not just individual lads that want to drop in and play every now and again. We have moved on and we hope that James can at some stage, too.
Intriguingly, Meath management also released Toher's training attendance compared to that of Jack Walsh - a player who didn't make the league final panel.
Of Meath's 34 training sessions between November and January, Toher missed 18 while Walsh missed just one. During the league, the Meath hurlers trained 25 times. Toher was present for seven sessions while Walsh didn't miss one.