By Shaun Casey
JOHN McEntee was the man in charge of Clontibret when they last won the Monaghan Senior Championship in 2019 and could call upon Farney legends such as Conor McManus, Dessie Mone and Vinny Corey.
On Saturday evening, Corey will lead his Monaghan team into battle for his first league game in the bainisteoir bib, against McEntee’s native county Armagh.
McEntee, a five-time All-Ireland club winner with Crossmaglen and the current Inniskeen boss, see the aging Monaghan squad as a potential problem for Corey this season.
“Vinny lives and breathes football,” said the 2022 All-Ireland winner. “He has a very astute mind, he’s a very strong-willed, strong-minded person. He knows what he wants, he has the interest and the aptitude.
“I think it probably did come a bit earlier that he might have liked but sometimes when you get the chance you have to seize it. I think the difficulty for Vinny is that his main players are getting that wee bit older and he’s still relying on them.
“They’ve been exceptional servants for Monaghan and their still exceptional players. Whether they have 70 minutes football in them, that’s the thing that we’re not sure about.
“Monaghan are the longest serving team in Division One, that’s an incredible run so you can never underestimate them. They might not be the top two, but they’ve been consistently in the top eight.”
McEntee believes that Kieran McGeeney’s side will be the pregame favourites on Saturday but suggests that the Orchard County will get nothing easy in Castleblayney and thinks this is already a must win game for both.
“Monaghan have lost a couple of players and I don’t think that they have anyone coming through to the same degree of what’s needed. Armagh’s going to be favourites.
“Armagh started last year really well, they were very fit, they had a lot of training done earlier in the year and the few league matches they won, it helped solidify their place.
“They’ll want to repeat that this year. Because it’s so crucial, if you lose this game, particularly with Armagh and Monaghan, it could determine the future of your league and whether you’re going to be playing Division One next year.
“I actually think Armagh are better placed for it. I think Monaghan will give them a hell of a game and they’ll fight to the bitter end, but I think Armagh will probably pip it in the