Martin Ennis has challenged his Meath players to bounce back from relegation to Christy Ring Cup.
The luckless Royals will return to hurling's second tier in 2018 after yesterday's Leinster SHC round-robin defeat to neighbours Westmeath saw them relegated on scoring difference.
"I'm gutted for the lads. It comes down to small margins and we got chances and we didn't take them," the crestfallen Meath manager told the Irish Sun.
"Meath need to come out of the Christy Ring next year, simple as. We're now laid up for seven months. How is anybody supposed to prepare a team when you are idle for seven months?
"It's too long for 'lesser teams' as they call us."