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Tony McEntee eager to continue his run of success

John Campbell

Former Armagh All-Ireland winner Tony McEntee is steeling himself for one of his biggest sporting challenges in 2014.

McEntee, who was at the heart of the 2002 all-conquering Orchard County team, is now hoping that the managerial success he has enjoyed over the past three years with Crossmaglen Rangers will extend into his new role with Dublin club St Brigid's.

In tandem with Gareth O'Neill, McEntee took the Rangers to two All-Ireland club titles, three Ulster crowns and three further Armagh county championship honours.

In doing so, he maintained the phenomenal success that Cross have enjoyed since the mid-90s, but while fortified by his immense reputation as a player and his achievements to date as a manager, McEntee is under no illusions about the enormity of the task that confronts him.

"St Brigid's are a very ambitious outfit and to be honest this is one of the reasons that swayed me to take the job in the first place," reveals McEntee.

"They have good players, but I am mindful that club football in Dublin is hugely competitive with a number of clubs able to call on players from other counties who are based in the capital.

"The Dublin club championship in particular is extremely difficult to win but I would like to think that St Brigid's will be giving it their best shot next year."

Up until now St Brigid's have been under the baton of former Meath All-Ireland winner Gerry McEntee, who is one of Ireland's most eminent surgeons.

He hands the reins over to McEntee at a time when a number of Dublin clubs are strengthening their resources.

In the recent county championship final, St Vincent's only managed to beat Ballymun Kickhams after a replay (1-9 to 0-8).

St Vincent's include three current Dublin All-Ireland winners in their side – Ger Brennan, Dean Rock and Diarmuid Connolly – as well as a former sharpshooter in Tómas Quinn who is still delivering the goods at club level.

"That's a measure of how strong some teams can be and it will take a huge effort if we are to upset the applecart," said McEntee.

He will immerse himself in his new post with a ringing endorsement from his Crossmaglen successor Oisin McConville with whom he played for many years.

"Tony and Gareth O'Neill did a magnificent job with Crossmaglen Rangers up until they handed over to Joe Kernan at the start of this year," states McConville.

"Tony is very much his own man and I always feel that this is an absolute pre-requisite if you hope to have any success in management."

St Brigid's, who boast three current Dublin squad members in the shape of Paddy Andrews, Barry Cahill and Graham Norton, last won the Leinster club championship in 2003.

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