By Shaun Casey
ANDY McEntee’s appointment as the new Antrim manager may come as a bit of a surprise but former Saffron star Kevin Niblock believes that an outsider coming into charge is a positive move for the county.
The former Meath boss takes over from three-time All-Ireland winner Enda McGinley, who guided Antrim to promotion from the bottom division in his first season in charge last year.
“I don’t know much about him,” admitted Niblock, “but I think it’s definitely a good thing for Antrim to get someone in from the outside who’s probably going in, not blind, but where everyone has a clean slate.
“Mickey Culbert said to us years ago when he was in the early days with St Gall’s. He won three county titles and he quit but he really put it in the team that it’ll help the club because someone fresh will come in, that he obviously had his favourites, and it might not necessarily be beneficial to the squad’s health (for him to continue).
“Like anything, you start something afresh, and everybody gets a second wind and people who are maybe more established have to up it again. Looking at Andy’s CV and the success he’s had at club level and the great job he did with Meath, someone with that sort of pedigree from outside the county might not be a bad choice,” added the 2010 All-Ireland club winner.
In the not-so-distant future, Niblock believes that there are some young coaches within the county that will go on to manage Antrim, but for the intervening years it’s about building the foundations and a structure that will help the Saffrons become successful.
“We have plenty of coaches, young coaches, the likes of John McKeever and people like that who are well fit for that post.
“So, it’ll be interesting to see how Andy and how other people in Antrim are doing their own thing in terms of coaching get on, not just for the three or five years but for the next decade. Antrim will be in a better place hopefully.
“The good thing is he’s got the Division Three status so he’s going to go in at a good level and the boys are going to have to start hitting the ground running.”