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Tony McEntee has no interest in taking over Down reins

By Declan Bogue

Published 25/08/2015

Staying put: Tony McEntee says he has fallen out of love with the inter-county game and is happy at St Brigid’s
Staying put: Tony McEntee says he has fallen out of love with the inter-county game and is happy at St Brigid’s

Tony McEntee, the two-time All-Ireland club winning manager with Crossmaglen Rangers, has firmly ruled himself out of the running for the Down job.

Last year, McEntee seemed poised to ascend to the managerial hot seat in the Mourne County before an apparent change of heart by the Down county board, who later appointed then Kilcoo manager, Jim McCorry.

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph and asked how interested he was in the post, McEntee, who won the 2002 All-Ireland as a player with Armagh, responded: "No, I'm not at all interested. I'm not interested in county football at all, actually."

This will come as a surprise to many. As a player, McEntee has a substantial list of honours alongside his twin, John. After retiring from playing, Tony formed a highly-rated managerial partnership with Gareth O'Neill that brought Crossmaglen two All-Ireland club titles in 2011 and 2012.

At the present time, McEntee is manager of the St Brigid's club in Dublin.

Pressed for his reasons for the reluctance to take on an inter-county job, he said: "I'm not interested at this moment in time and next year I'm probably not going to do anything. I've fallen out of love with county football. I have no heed on it whatsoever.

"I always say that if my personal circumstances change, if I wasn't in the job I am doing, I would have a bit more time. But as long as my work circumstances remain the same, county football is beyond my reach."

Down Chairman Sean Rooney has had to start a fresh search for a manager after the County Executive recommended that club delegates would vote to end McCorry's tenure, following defeat in the Ulster Championship to Derry and a disappointing loss in the qualifiers to Wexford.

Despite winning promotion to Division One of the National League while presiding over a season of transition among the playing panel, McCorry felt he had no mandate to continue as manager, although he survived the vote on a count of 22-20.

With McEntee not putting his name forward, the spotlight now falls on other potential candidates.

In recent years, former Monaghan and Meath boss Seamus McEnaney has been linked with managerial roles in both Antrim and Fermanagh, and the current Corduff gaffer may be tempted to hook up again and form a management pairing with former Armagh boss Paul Grimley, resuming their double act.

Other strong runners that might enter the equation include Cathal Murray, coach at Down football nursery St Colman's College, who is thought to be interested in the role.

Jody Gormley, the former Antrim manager who played in the 1995 All-Ireland final for Tyrone, teaches at another famous football school, Abbey CBS, and the position might sufficiently pique his interest.

Those who have already tasted inter-county action as part of James McCartan's backroom team could also be considered.

Aidan O'Rourke may still be keen for an inter-county manager's role after interviewing for the Antrim manager's job last year, while he was part of McCartan's backroom team in the past and is familiar with football in the county.

However, it would seem unlikely that current Fermanagh boss Pete McGrath might return to the scene of former glories.

Belfast Telegraph

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