Saturday 14 December 2019

If we're good enough we'll win it - McEntee

Andy McEntee is the Meath man at the helm of Ballyboden St Enda’s2012.: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Andy McEntee is the Meath man at the helm of Ballyboden St Enda’s2012.: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Andy McEntee likes to get to the point.

Going into Saturday's All-Ireland club SFC semi-final clash with Clonmel Commercials, there are plenty of variables to consider.

Will Paul Durcan be able to continue his good form with the commute from the Middle East? Have Ballyboden managed the winter break well? And are McEntee's men be ready to push on even further into uncharted territory, having already secured the club's first Leinster title?

McEntee's answer is straight forward. Regardless of the build-up, he expects his side to be up for Saturday's game.

"Freshness. . . Jesus, if lads aren't keen for an All-Ireland semi-final, they're looking for an excuse," said the Meath native. "If we're good enough, we'll win it. If you don't, there's no point blaming the lay-off."

McEntee's two-season reign has been underpinned by pragmatism. When St Vincent's beat them in 2014, he saw his side flag towards the end of the game and put them to work in the gym over the winter.


When the county hurlers at his disposal returned to the set-up, he saw what they could offer and parachuted them straight into the team.

And while Durcan is based thousands of miles from Ballyboden, he plays when he's available because he's one of the best goalkeepers in the country.

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McEntee's admiration for senior players like Conal Keaney and Stephen Hiney is clear, while he has no doubt that Michael Darragh Macauley's frustration at being in and out of the Dublin team last year is serving the club well now.

"(That's been) an absolute Godsend to us. And I don't mean that in any disrespectful way to Michael Darragh. He's been fantastic. I mean. . . the county final - he was awesome.

"But any players who go on to win an All-Ireland and play in every minute, it's next or near impossible to come back for your club and be as hungry as people would like you to be.

"And that's no reflection on anyone. That's just human nature. And being the competitor he is, he wanted to play. And I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying, he wasn't happy that he wasn't playing. Did that help us? Absolutely. It's huge for us."

McEntee has previously had stints with Donaghmore Ashbourne as well as with the Royal county's minors in 2012. They lost Leinster and All-Ireland finals to Dublin that year but it was one of the best runs for a Meath team in that grade in a while.

That success and a win in the Dublin championship have boosted his CV. It's a measure of how competitive club football in the capital is that despite being just two games away from an All-Ireland title, Ballyboden are only the fifth favourites to win Dublin again in 2016.

The success means McEntee's name will be inevitably linked to the senior post in Meath in the future and he admits it's something he has considered.

"I think anybody who is doing a job like this probably looks at things like that. I don't know. It's a huge commitment no more than it is here. But I'm sure, yeah, it's something that has crossed my mind, yeah."

That is for another day perhaps. Now Ballyboden are focused on the challenge of Clonmel Commercials.

"They deserved to be there. They deserved to be within touching distance of Nemo. And then they got a fantastic goal at the end. So nobody can complain. That goal could have been immaterial if they hadn't stayed in touch with them.

"I saw them play in Ruislip. They're big and strong down the middle. And they have pace down the wings. And they're young. And they have no fear."

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