Cross search for new boss
Tuesday, 12 March 2013
CROSSMAGLEN are searching for a new boss after their management team of Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill stepped down from senior duties last week.
McEntee and O'Neill guided Crossmaglen to two All-Ireland club titles and three successive Ulster titles before being narrowly beaten by St Brigid's of Roscommon in the All-Ireland semi-final last month.
It is believed that McEntee and O'Neill, along with Seamus McGeown will continue to work with the underage sides at the club.
McEntee told the Irish News that his time in charge of Crossmaglen Rangers had exceeded all of his expectations.
“We had three wonderful years," said McEntee. "We came in with very little expectations at the start. We had been beaten by Kilmacud Crokes the year before and by Pearse Ógs the year that we came in.
“Our target at that stage was to get back on line and win the Armagh title. Things snowballed for the next three seasons and it was just unfortunate it didn't finish off the way we wanted it."
When McEntee and O'Neill took over initially there were fears that Crossmaglen were on the slide. Having been beaten by Kilmacaud Crokes in the previous All-Ireland club Championship and having had to cope with the retirement of stalwarts like Francie Bellew, McEntee and O'Neill were charged with crafting a new Crossmaglen team. They can take pride from the fact that the team they established was every bit as competitive as the previous Cross teams who were so successful.
Attention will now turn to their successors. The frontrunners are sure to include John McEntee, brother of Tony who stepped down as manager of Culloville at the end of last season as well as the recently retired Oisín McConville. The record-breaking corner forward told the Democrat that he will not be taking up any position with the senior squad.
“I was approached about being part of the new management set-up but it isn't the right time for me," said McConville. "It wouldn't be right for me to go straight in after playing. It's certainly something I'd love to do in the future given the chance but for now, it's not right for me. I'll do a bit of work with underage players at the club and see what the future holds."
Joe Kernan, who was so instrumental in developing Cross into the footballing force they have become over the last 15 years, is also an option that Cross will want to sound out before any decision is made.
No official statement has been made by the club but with league football looming on the horizon the appointment is expected to be made at some stage this week.
Whoever steps into the hot-seat will carry with them the weight of expectation. Crossmaglen have won 10 Ulster Championships and six All-Ireland titles but such was the job that McEntee and O'Neill did that the senior side will be expected to compete on a national level again over the coming seasons.
McEntee explained that when he and O'Neill took charge of the south Armagh stalwarts their intention was to merely win back the Armagh Championship.
He said: "I think our focus was to bring back some credibility to the seniors and get the club back on a good standing. It was natural that the consequence of that was a successful time on the field. We just didn't realise it would go so far."
The onus now will be to continue that legacy and with Tony McEntee and Gareth O'Neill set to be involved at underage levels of the club, the future of the club looks to be in safe hands.
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