For someone who wasn’t sure his club would see past the second round of the Dublin senior football championship never mind play for them, it’s certainly been a season of welcome surprises for Conal Keaney.
Ballyboden St Endas’ against-the-odds win over Kilmacud Crokes last October put in motion a campaign that has shocked more than just Keaney, who had planned to focus primarily on hurling.
But following the hurlers’ championship exit to St Vincent’s in September, Andy McEntee was relentless in persuading him and other dual players like Stephen Hiney to commit to the footballers.
“Andy kept at us and kept at us to come back, ‘just come along to a training session’ and when you come along then he nearly sticks the boots on you himself. Next thing you know you’re playing in a championship match.”
Keaney has plenty of time for McEntee. If not for him, the 33-year-old wouldn’t find himself 60 minutes away from an All-Ireland final.
“He’s probably one of the best managers I’ve ever had. His man-management skills are excellent. What he does in training is very good. He’s absolutely meticulous.
“He’s ruthless, he makes decisions that need to be made, which some managers probably find hard, especially in club set-ups.
“I think he has all the attributes to go a very long way as a manager.”
McEntee has taken the players away on a training camp ahead of Saturday’s clash against Clonmel Commercials. Nothing is being left to chance particularly when Keaney and Ballyboden are cognisant that they’re not regarded as world-beaters like other Dublin champions.
“There’s a little bit of pressure there because every other team that has come out of Dublin has done well, either won Leinsters or got to the finals. For us, it was nearly the other way around — other teams were seeing a great opportunity.”
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