‘They think it was a fluke’, says Ballyboden’s Andy McEntee

It’s just as well Ballyboden St Enda’s manager Andy McEntee isn’t one for sitting on his laurels.

Otherwise, a look at the bookmakers’ market for the 2016 Dublin senior football championship might have had him spluttering into his tea.

“I see we’re fifth favourites for next year for Dublin! Anyway... they obviously think it was a fluke! Great to hear, absolutely great to hear,” smiled the boss of the county and Leinster champions.

It may well be some time before Ballyboden make an All-Ireland semi-final again, and McEntee admits that the commitment of the club’s inter-county hurlers like Conal Keaney has been central to securing a last-four date with Clonmel Commercials on Saturday evening.

“Any time you make hard and fast rules, you end up backing yourself into a corner and having to break them, ultimately. The likes of Conal and the same with Stephen Hiney last year, they’re exceptional players and they’re exceptional characters within Ballyboden.

“And you know the quality that is there. I think deep down Conal knew. He was just keeping it close to his chest. He wants to play. Every time he turns up to play, he plays. He doesn’t fanny around. He plays and he gives you everything he has.”

That Michael Darragh Macauley didn’t feature in the Dublin starting team as much last season also strengthened McEntee’s hand. “That was an absolute godsend to us. And I don’t mean that in any disrespectful way to Michael Darragh. He’s been fantastic. I mean... the county final — he was awesome. But any player who goes on to win an All-Ireland plays in every minute, it’s next or near-impossible to come back for your club and be as hungry as people would like you to be.

“That’s no reflection on anyone’s behalf. That’s just human nature. And being the competitor he is, he wanted to play. And I’m sure he wouldn’t mind me saying, he wasn’t happy that he wasn’t playing (with Dublin).”

Just a 25-minute drive from his Dunboyne home to Boden’s Firhouse Rd home, the former Meath minor manager’s work with Ballyboden has been an eye-opener. When most of their success in recent times has been in hurling it makes McEntee’s achievements all the more impressive. “I’d have to be fair in saying I didn’t realise just how big it was and what a fantastic organisation it is. It amazes me. To field 120-odd teams? It’s incredible.”


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