McEntee hoping for a happy homecoming

WHEN Gerry McEntee strides out to patrol the Páirc Táilteann sideline tomorrow it will be a homecoming in more ways than one.

Tales of the midfield legend’s dynamism in a green jersey are ten a penny among Royal County sentimentalists who long for a return to the glory days of the late 1980s. It’s a little known fact, however, or to be more precise, a long forgotten fact, that McEntee is equally a Summerhill legend of sorts.

Best known as a Nobber clubman through and through, personal circumstances and, perhaps, a desire for county title success, saw him make a brief playing switch to Summerhill in 1990.

Operating at centre-forward and now in the company of fellow Meath legend Micky Lyons, Summerhill reached the county final that year and took on three-in-a-row champions Navan O’Mahony’s. It all turned soured for McEntee, however, who, in a drawn game, broke his wrist and was powerless to prevent opponents O’Mahony’s from sealing their four-in-a-row success in the replay.

By march 1992 and now commuting from England, McEntee was back with intermediate side Nobber and the Summerhill episode was consigned to local legend. These days McEntee is most strongly associated with St Brigid’s in Dublin and it is on their behalf that the joint manager will face down Summerhill in an intriguing Leinster club championship tie.

“I think he only played with them for a year,” said Brigid’s and Dublin midfielder Barry Cahill. “He left Nobber for a year, got to a county final with Summerhill and lost it. Summerhill would obviously be Mick Lyons’ club and Gerry would still be very good friends with Mick so going back will certainly be interesting for Gerry.”

A surgeon by profession, McEntee is hugely respected on and off the field. He has been centrally involved in both of Brigid’s county title wins, in 2003 and this year. He is credited with playing a key role in turning the Blanchardstown/Castleknock outfit around after relegation from Division 1 of the league just two years ago.

“We got a new management in after that, led by Gerry and Mark Byrne,” explained Barry’s younger brother, Brigid’s wing-forward Mark Cahill. “They’ve really just turned things around. Gerry is also Director of Football and has been first class.

“We went unbeaten in the league and that just carried through into the Championship where we reached the final. We didn’t do ourselves justice for whatever reason (against Kilmacud Crokes). We had our targets this year and it was to get back to the county final.”

Brigid’s did just that. And they won it, beating neighbours St Oliver Plunkett’s Eoghan Ruadh last Sunday and earning just a second ever run out in the provincial championship. Curiously, they’ll seek to preserve a 100 per cent record in the competition. Against Summerhill it will be a case of momentum – this will be Brigid’s sixth game in seven weeks – taking on freshness as Summerhill haven’t played since the county final on October 16.

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