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‘Window of opportunity’ still open for Mayo, says McEntee


SOMETHING DIFFERENT Mayo selector Tony McEntee is part of Stephen Rochford’s management team.?Pic: Sportsfile


Edwin McGreal

NEW Mayo coach Tony McEntee feels the current Mayo squad have not missed their chance to win an All-Ireland senior title.
Speaking to The Mayo News during an extensive interview — which will appear in full next week — the former Armagh All-Ireland winner spoke about his footballing philosophy and why he has thrown his lot in with Mayo.
McEntee also said that he is certain about one thing – the window of opportunity for this group of players to win an All-Ireland has not closed.
“Oh not at all, not at all. Absolutely not,” he replies emphatically when asked by The Mayo News.
“They’re a young team for starters. They haven’t had a massive amount of football or training over the past number of years so I think they’re actually relatively fresh.
“The club success has been quite limited really so those club players have not played through the year, other than Castlebar two years ago and now this year as well. I actually think that they haven’t had the serious amount of football that people think they’ve had.”
Specifically, McEntee points to the fewer games in the Connacht championship and the ‘relatively easy time’ they had there prior to 2015.
“In previous years gone by they haven’t had to do much until really August, they’ve paced themselves rightly, I think. Then, of course, they don’t have many older players,” he adds.
McEntee says he’s been an admirer of this Mayo team in recent years.
“From afar they looked like a well-organised, ambitious group of players. “They looked like a county who have made real progress from the start of James Horan’s time and for a range of reasons, luck being one of them, didn’t just get across the line on three or four of those years.
“So they’re certainly a team that I suppose, from a coaching perspective, that you might look at and say you might be able to help here and maybe offer something to it.”
The Crossmaglen native has already been impressed by the players.
“The boys that are there I have to say that they are very solid. I was surprised initially with how well they get on together. Coming from a county set up of my own, we went through a lot in Armagh in the days when we were going well.
“Even in that you could tell a wee bit of tension between some players in different parts of the year but when I met them all here at the first strength and conditioning session we had back in early December I was actually surprised at how well they got on together and the camaraderie that everybody seems to have.
“That day the eight Castlebar players all turned up and that, in itself, was a good signal because they have a lot more on their mind than just Mayo at this stage.”
McEntee will primarily work hand in hand with Donie Buckley in a coaching role. The former Crossmaglen player and coach says it is too early to see any discernible change in a style of play under the new management.
“We’re getting used to each other. At this stage it’s very, very simple, saying to players: ‘here’s an idea how we want to play, let’s see how ye get on with it’.
“There is going to be a transition stage from management to management as we move along so from Pat [Holmes] and Noel [Connelly] previously to now and that change will just take time to do it.
“It might be two or three league matches before we get into seeing the differences in the different styles of management. All we want from the players now is to buy into it and adapt.”

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