Conor McManus says John McEntee didn’t “shirk” his job with Clontibret even though it brought him the one scalp he never wanted to take.
Beating Crossmaglen Rangers, the club with whom he won so many Armagh, Ulster and All-Ireland titles as a player and also managed to their last provincial title in 2015, was an upsetting victory for McEntee.
“It was a difficult one for John,” said McManus, who top-scored with six points in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday night.
“You feel for him to an extent. Crossmaglen is everything to John McEntee but we have to commend him because he done his job and he didn’t shirk that.
“This would have been in his head for a few weeks, knowing the Monaghan champions were going to play the Armagh champions, but he did his job as manager as professionally as he could do. John knows these boys all their lives, he’s watched them and trained them, but he’ll be thankful it’s over now.”
Clontibret bossed the first half and led 0-7 to 0-3 at the break, Michael P O’Dowd and Pauric Boyle each scoring twice from play for the visitors. McManus scored an outstanding point, the point of the game, early on off his left while off balance.
Cross didn’t score from play until the 26th minute through Kyle Carragher and were left to rue a total of 13 wides, including seven in the first half.
The expected Cross response duly came in the second half and they closed to within a point, scoring three of the last four points, but Clontibret’s defence held out and survived an aerial bombardment into their square.
“We withstood it to an extent, but we missed chances and I missed a goal chance (saved by Tiernan McConville) which would have put the game to bed. But the boys showed good character there and the defence stood up strong,” added McManus.
Scorers for Crossmaglen Rangers: R O’Neill (0-3, 2f), O O’Neill (0-2, 1f), K Carragher, T Kernan, P Hughes (0-1 each), A Kernan (1f).
Scorers for Clontibret: C McManus (0-6, 5f) P Boyle, MP O’Dowd (0-2 each).
CROSSMAGLEN RANGERS: T McConville; P Hughes, R Kelly, P McKeown; A Kernan, C Cumiskey, C Crowley; S Morris, A Farrelly; J Hanratty, O O’Neill, C O’Connor; C McConville, R O’Neill, K Carragher.
Subs: T Kernan for Hanratty (HT), P Stuttard for McKeown (HT), M Boyce for Farrelly (43), J McKeever for O’Connor (50).
CLONTIBRET: D McDonnell; C Doyle, C Boyle, L Savage; J Gormley, D Mone, C Greenan; F Hughes, K Lavelle; D Savage, M P O’Dowd, B Greenan; P Boyle, Vinnie Corey, C McManus.
Subs: Darragh for Hughes for P Boyle (48), Kiernan Greenan for Hughes (60), Eoin McGuigan for Savage (60).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone)