McEntee faces a familiar foe in Ulster club campaign

It was a gamble John McEntee must have felt was worth taking when he took on the Clontibret job last year — but the scenario he wanted to avoid most has come to pass.

McEntee faces a familiar foe in Ulster club campaign

It was a gamble John McEntee must have felt was worth taking when he took on the Clontibret job last year — but the scenario he wanted to avoid most has come to pass. On Saturday week, this Crossmaglen Rangers giant, a winner of five All-Ireland and 14 Armagh SFC titles, will must try to dump his beloved club out of the Ulster Championship.

Clontibret’s surprise win over five-in-a-row chasing Scotstown in Sunday’s Monaghan final has teed up this intriguing head-to-head. Crossmaglen captain Aaron Kernan insists it will be harder on McEntee more than anyone else.

“John owes this club nothing,” says Kernan. “He has a job to do with Clontibret and so be it,” says Kernan, who led Cross to a 21st Armagh title in 24 years on Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough on him more than anyone else because he is such a die-hard Crossmaglen man — but when he took the job, we knew there was a small possibility this might happen, and so it has come to pass.

“I actually texted him last night (Saturday) to wish him well, but he owes this club nothing. People wouldn’t believe what he still does for our club, for the players and things off the field, he is still heavily involved with our club.

It should be another great game, and Clontibret will be confident after beating Scotstown, but we were very disappointed with how we finished up against Gweedore last season. It seems like a lifetime ago, but we’re back here again.

Cross were stunned by Donegal champions Gweedore in last year’s Ulster semi-final, conceding four goals in a seven-point defeat. They found themselves five points down against Ballymacnab early in the second half of Sunday’s final, but reeled off a fabulous 1-9 without reply in a 17-minute spell, playing some vintage football.

“That was outstanding,” admitted Kernan. “For us to do that is the reason why we’re champions, I suppose, and the fact we are playing so well when it matters is the most pleasing thing. This is my 16th Armagh title, and it’s as sweet as the first one.

“We have a good mix of youth and experience, but it is the young boys like Oisin and Rian O’Neill, Callum Comiskey, and Stephen Morris who really stepped up and took on a leadership role, a day when those boys turned into men.”

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