Meath GAA chairman John Kavanagh has called for a "united county" to move forward together following the decision to retain Andy McEntee as senior football manager for 2022.

A recommendation by the Royal County's executive committee to remove McEntee as manager after five seasons was defeated tonight at a county board meeting in Trim.

Of 74 votes cast on the controversial proposal at the Knightsbrook Hotel meeting - one vote was spoiled - just 27 supported the sacking of McEntee while 46 called for the Nobber man to remain in his position.

It's the third time in just 11 years that Meath clubs have declined to endorse an executive committee proposal regarding team management.

McEntee stated ahead of the meeting, which lasted around 90 minutes, that he wished to stay on for a sixth season.

A number of speakers made it clear that they didn't support the motion while there was a heated separate debate on whether the vote on McEntee's future should be conducted by a secret ballot or not.

A vote on this issue, by a show of hands, decided that McEntee's future would be decided by secret ballot and the results of that ballot were eventually confirmed by Kavanagh, drawing a cheer and applause from the gathering.

Kavanagh then addressed the group and said it's his wish that Meath football can move forward now and park the divisive issue.

He also told the gathering that he is personally glad McEntee is remaining in charge and said he hoped that delegates would return after a successful 2022 season to discuss the management situation again.

McEntee, initially appointed in August of 2016, was given a fresh three-year deal after the 2019 season, with a review at the end of the second year.

That review, undertaken by a three-man committee, was presented to Meath's executive committee last Wednesday and, following this, officials voted by eight to seven to recommend McEntee's removal.

County board delegates were told that while the review of McEntee's management didn't make any recommendations about his future, it was used to inform the vote by the executive committee.

McEntee, father of Meath captain Shane, has ultimately been given a green light to continue with a new look backroom team that includes former All-Ireland winning Armagh coach John McCloskey.

Meanwhile, there was a boost for Meath hurling with confirmation at the county board meeting that Seoirse Bulfin, a long-time ally of Davy Fitzgerald's and a successful coach with Clare's All-Ireland winning team of 2013 and Wexford's Leinster title-winning side of 2019, is joining Nick Weir's Royal County set-up.