Wednesday 21 March 2018

Mayo's 'top three' appeal too enticing for Tony McEntee to resist

McEntee admits to “having admiration” for this Mayo group.
McEntee admits to “having admiration” for this Mayo group.
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Earlier this year Tony McEntee admitted he had "fallen out of love" with inter-county football. But it hasn't taken long for the romance to be rekindled.

When new Mayo manager Stephen Rochford picked up the phone for "a chat", the former Armagh footballer obliged without really thinking where the conversation would lead to.

But ratification as one of Rochford's selectors on Tuesday night has presented him with an opportunity that he knows he would have regretted turning down.

"I did say I would lie up, relax and do very little," said the 2002 All-Ireland winner. "But this was one of the only possible opportunities that I might have got of working with one of the top three teams in Ireland.

"I didn't do it I could have had a regret because I think I can add value to the set-up. If I didn't and this type of opportunity didn't arise again I could have been living with some regret or notion that I could have made a difference."

McEntee admits to "having admiration" for this Mayo group.

"I felt over the last three years that they were the best team in the country for any number of reasons. They are certainly a team you can be drawn to," he said.

"They play attractive football, they're an honest bunch of players. They're a team I feel I can work with. I don't think it would be a huge strain mentally to take on a team like Mayo.

"There were," he concluded, "a lot of reasons to say no."

Based in south Armagh, he's facing a six-hour return journey to Mayo but he has reconciled himself to that.

"It was foremost in the mind," he explained. "That is the biggest issue and the impact that could have on family life. It is something that I have reconciled in my mind to wanting to do."

For the early part of the season he will oversee midweek preparations of the Dublin-based Mayo players but, by May, he expects to be making the journey west on a more regular basis.

A medical rep with PEI, McEntee - Crossmaglen Rangers' joint-manager when they won All-Ireland club titles in 2011 and 2012 - didn't know Rochford personally before the call came.

"I didn't know the man. The initial call was just for a chat. I met him out of courtesy. I was in Galway at the time and it went from there," he said.

Rochford will have his brother Eoin overseeing logistics, while former Irish Independent GAA correspondent Liam Horan will be involved in media co-ordination.

Irish Independent

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