Andy McEntee challenges praise of Dublin’s ‘swashbuckling’ style

Andy McEntee challenges praise of Dublin’s ‘swashbuckling’ style

By Paul Keane

Meath boss Andy McEntee says it’s a “misconception” that Dublin play “swashbuckling” football all the time as they close in on four All-Irelands in a row.

The Dubs streaked past Roscommon with a 4-24 tally on Sunday but are expected to engage in another tight, tactical game against Galway on Saturday.

The sides have already played out two close encounters in this year’s National League while Dublin edged a low-scoring arm-wrestle with Tyrone in Omagh last month.

McEntee also pointed to Dublin’s infamous tactical fouling in the closing minutes of last year’s All-Ireland final as another example of their willingness to do whatever it takes to win.

The Royals boss said that if referee Joe McQuillan had shown more courage at the time last September “he’d have issued five or six black cards” to Dublin players.

In a wide-ranging interview with local radio station LMFM about Meath football, McEntee said: “If I had €10 for the amount of times I heard somebody saying, ‘Kick the fucking ball in!’ I’d be a lot wealthier.

It’s not that simple. And it’s not just Meath. There’s a misconception out there that the likes of Dublin play this swashbuckling style — Dublin play with 15 men in their own half too.

McEntee guided Dublin kingpins Ballyboden St Enda’s to All-Ireland club success in 2016 and said Jim Gavin’s county side are masters at doing whatever it takes to win.

Speaking in the context of Meath’s failure to defend a one-point lead against Tyrone in this year’s qualifiers, a game they eventually lost after extra-time, he said: “Go back to Dublin having gone a point ahead against Mayo in the All-Ireland final last year, what did they do? I mean the referee should have issued five or six black cards and given Mayo (the opportunity to win).

What did they do? They held onto their men and dragged them to the ground. Maybe we needed to do something like that. Cynical, in a disciplined sort of way where you say, ‘Okay, this is just not happening here’.

McEntee, who indicated he is open to remaining in charge for a third season, admitted he has watched endless re-runs of their tie against Tyrone.

He zoned in particularly on the period between Ben Brennan’s 75th-minute point for Meath and Cathal McShane’s equaliser shortly after, which forced extra-time.

McEntee said: “In that minute between Ben Brennan’s free and McShane’s equalising score, we made six mistakes, six or seven of what Joe Schmidt calls ‘system errors’, any one of which would possibly have prevented the score. I’ve watched it more times than I should have.”

McEntee was furious with referee Paddy Neilan at the end of that game and was restrained from confronting the Roscommon official.

He admitted: “I think if it were to happen again I’d like to think I’d do it differently. It’s not one of my finer moments but it can’t be undone at this stage.

Former Meath player McEntee also lashed the new Super 8s format and described it as unfair. He said: “Ultimately we got two Championship games this year. That’s why I’m really not a fan of the Super 8s.

“It’s an unequal competition. We’ve played two games, what have Tyrone played? Eight? Seven or eight.

“It’s not a fair competition. And there’s no competition that I can think of, in any sport, in the world, where they have a round-robin section after the knock-out stage. It’s always the other way around.

“Surely you have a group stage, everybody gets a certain amount of games. Like, if you had eight groups of four, everybody gets three games, the two top go into competition A and the bottom two go into competition B.

“People will say, ‘Look, you had your chance against Longford and didn’t take it’. I accept that.

“But we turn around and draw Tyrone in the next game; Monaghan get three Division 4 teams, no disrespect to any Division 4 team.

“You look at Roscommon’s path into the Super 8s; they beat Leitrim, lost to Galway and then beat Armagh and they’re in the Super 8s. It’s not equal and it’s not a fair competition.”

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