Ballyboden's Royal boss hails his troops' willingness to battle
A year ago Ballyboden St Enda's manager Andy McEntee was left to regret what was lost against St Vincent's and faced into a barren winter.
In his first year with the club, they reached a Dublin SFC semi-final but fell to the Marino men. The difference between the sides was quite clear.
"We were there with 10 or 12 minutes to go," McEntee said.
"But we didn't have the work done, didn't have the strength or fitness or the strength-in-depth Vincent's had. Their subs came on and made the difference. I think this year we changed that."
They proved as much in the Dublin final a few weeks ago. When St Vincent's came thundering back, reeling off seven unanswered points, Ballyboden were ready.
They held firm and demonstrated their new-found depth by using six subs that day, including Dublin hurler and former county footballer David 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan.
McEntee made five changes against St Pat's as they got their Leinster campaign up and running. A first title in six years might have sated them but the Meath native was determined his side would take their chance.
"Refocusing is the big issue really," said McEntee. "You have to try and get guys to realise… I suppose most fellas feel you've had a successful year when you win the county championship and they maybe don't drive on.
"Vincent's have done that year on year but that's the most difficult part."
Louth champions St Pat's provided a robust test. Apart from the win, McEntee was pleased with his side's application. "Days like that test your resolve. And our fellas showed they have that."
This week, McEntee will have to make a decision on Donegal All-Ireland-winning goalkeeper Paul Durcan whose work has him based in the Middle East.
Durcan has been available on a limited basis only, having played in the county final but missed out on the clash with St Pat's, with Conor Dooley deputising. Dooley will be on standby with a final decision on Durcan's availability set to be made at the 11th hour.
Next up on Sunday, it's Westmeath champions St Loman's.
"When you are representing Dublin maybe the presumption is you should be better than other teams," said McEntee. "But anyone who has been involved in these campaigns knows that's not the case and that's not how these competitions work."