McEntee: Ulster success story can run and run
Ulster will be the home of the All-Ireland club hurling and football titles for the next 12 months and Crossmaglen Rangers joint manager Tony McEntee is anxious to see benefits accrue from this at grassroots level.
McEntee watched his team totally demolish an insipid Garrycastle side by 2-19 to 1-7 in the football final replay at Kingspan Breffni Park and then articulated his thoughts on what the future might hold for the province.
“While it is terrific for ourselves to have retained our All-Ireland title thus making it six in all, I think the fact that Loughgiel also won the hurling crown makes this is a very special period for Ulster,” says McEntee.
“It is important that success like this permeates down to grassroots level and that young players coming through are encouraged to aspire to the highest standards.”
McEntee admitted that his side did not anticipate the relatively straightforward passage they enjoyed to the Andy Merrigan Cup this time round.
“Obviously Franny Hanratty’s two early goals were crucial and we built from there. But this was essentially a very good, disciplined team performance. Every player made a full contribution as did our substitutes. It was hugely satisfying from every viewpoint,” said McEntee.
Skipper Stephen Kernan, outstanding at centrethreequarters from where he scored three points from play, hailed the commitment and character of the Rangers side.
“These boys deserve the highest praise for their dedication and loyalty to the club,” he said
“After I missed the drawn game because of suspension, I did not think I would get the chance to lead the side to All Ireland glory and now this is a dream come true for me.”
And his brother Aaron, who gave a masterly display at wing-back, expressed the view that the Rangers policy of keeping going at full throttle had paid off.
“We learned from the mistakes we made in the drawn game and we were determined not to fall into that trap again,” he said.
Veteran Oisin McConville is the only player to have participated fully in the six All Ireland title triumphs achieved by the Rangers and he shows no indication yet of adopting a more sedentary life style.
“Obviously I am thrilled to still be part of this side,” smiled the 36-year-old scoring machine whose six points were crucial to the Rangers triumph.
“Naturally, we are going to enjoy this success but, when the excitement dies down, I will consider my future.
“I have family responsibilities and other commitments so I will have to take stock.”