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McEntee, Gerry

05 July 1991

Gerry McEntee
Gerry McEntee - excellence in all walks of life

Gerry McEntee, a remarkable player, not having kicked a ball in anger since breaking an arm in last years Meath S.F.C. Final replay. Not included on the Royal County panel for the first two clashes with Dublin, not even listed among the substitutes for the second replay. Yet there he was coming on against the Sky Blues with some 14 minutes to go, a rampant Dublin who had jumped, double scores, 0-10 to 0-5 ahead. Boylan’s last card perhaps. But the Nobber Doc was very much up to the task. Grasping midfield control from Foran and Bealin, the old midfield boss was back as Meath responded to McEntee’s urges. Gerry as in ’87 and ’88 was at the helm as Meath made their exit from the graveyard, to live and fight another day. Hogan Stand, worded by Bacchus, takes a look at the veteran footballer.

If Gerry McEntee wanted to avoid either football or medicine it would have been hard for him to do so. They were in his family, on both sides, and so it is not surprising that he had a tendency for both.

His mother Margaret hailed from Lobinstown and her brothers Phil, Andy, John and Tom O’Brien were to the fore in the great Syddan teams of the forties and fifties. John is a doctor in England and like Gerry, captained U.C.D. to Sigerson glory in his time there. Her uncle was the great Bill Dillon, one of Meath’s finest ever full backs, and her God-father was the late Tom Keegan, after whom the Keegan Cup was named.

Jack and Larry McEntee, brothers of Gerry’s father Tony, played with Nobber. Larry was also a doctor and he won an All Ireland Minor Championship with Louth (where he was at school) in 1935 Jack was a member of Nobber’s 1946 Junior Championship winning team.

Since Gerry has six brothers, there was always enough for a two or three-a-side match at home. All of them later played for Nobber and on one occasion (in 1979) they played in and won a Meath 5-a-side brothers championship. They had a team and two subs and in the final they previously beaten the Lynchs of Ballinlough and the McCabes of Seneschalstown.

Mary, his only sister has a keen interest in the game and she too remains involved in sport as she has a physiotherapy and acupuncture practice in Coole, Summerhill and treats a lot of sports injuries.

When at U.C.D. Gerry played with great players like Ogie Moran, J.P. Kean, Tony McManus, Pat O’Neill, Colm O’Rourke, John O’Keeffe, Gerry McCaul, Ollie Leddy, P.J. O’Halloran, Paddy O’Donoghue etc. It was when at U.C.D. that Gerry began to emerge as a great footballer, but it was always in his blood - so too was medicine "he didn’t lick them off the ground".

His honours: 2 All Ireland S.F.C.s: 4 Leinster S.F.C.’s- 2 National Football Leagues: 1 Bank of Ireland All-Star: 1 Centenary Cup: 1 Railway Cup(Captain).2 O’Byrne Cups: Sigerson Cups: 1 All-lreland Club (with U.C.D.) 1 Meath Feis Cup. 2 Meath Footballer of the Year Awards.

In whatever walk of life, career or sport, if one were to to look for inspiration or an example to follow in order to achieve success then look no further than Gerry McEntee.

To be successful in either code takes a strong will, a strong body, self-discipline, sacrifice and hard work. What does it take to combine both? What does it take to combine both and attain such a huge level in both?

In Gerry’s last year in St. Finians College, Mullingar, he played on the school senior team as a right full back. He didn’t set the place alight and certainly would not be picked out as a star of the future. He was not born with an identifiable talent like the physique of Liston, the athleticism said of Spillane or the deftness of Sheehy. He started, perhaps, with a lesser talent than they (and a passion for football) and through his single-mindedness, hard work, discipline and sacrifice he developed into one of the greatest midfielders we will have the pleasure of seeing or knowing in our lifetime. His fielding, his distribution, his encouragement to others, his never say die attitude and his ability to inspire those around him makes him as great and as important to his team as any of those persons already mentioned.

Gerry sat his Leaving Certificate in June 1972. He was not yet 17 years of age. He got a place in the medicine faculty that year in U.C.D. During his years in U.C.D. he was continually in the top few in his class and often first. During those years he combined his studies with playing for U.C.D., Nobber and Meath. His involvement with any one of the above never affected his performance with the other. He was dedicated to each one and totally committed to each one.This commitment was exemplified in his year as captain of U.C.D. in 1978. To win the Sigerson was the main goal of university football—to be captain and win was special. On the Sunday before Sigerson of 1978 Gerry played with Meath in a National Football League Division 11 South match against Wexford—seemingly an unimportant match and not worth risking injury for—but not to Gerry. He broke his collar bone against Wexford and played no part in Sigerson. Happily U.C.D. won the Sigerson, Gerry received the Cup and was honoured with being captain of the Combined Universities team.

Remember too that the pinnacle(s) of his career as a footballer coincided with his globe trotting in pursuit of advancing his professional career. Starting in 1984 when Meath won the Centenary Cup, Gerry went to Newcastle for two years (August ’84 - July ’86), a year in Dublin (August ’86 to July ’87), a year in Limerick (August ’87 to July ’88), a year in Dublin (August ’88 to June ’89), a year in the Mayo clinic in Minnesota (July ’89 to June ’90) and now back in Dublin again.

He has been part of all Meath’s successes in those years - a vital part. Meath certainly would not have achieved as much without him. The following are quotes from different papers which illustrates this. (1) An interesting aspect of McEntee’s place of eminence in the game is that he has never been a "natural " footballer. He does not strike the ball especially well, his scoring exploits are studiously rare and his basic speed varies between a fast walk and a gallop.

Yet if you watch closely, nobody will be doing as much for Meath as McEntee. When he jumps to catch, the timing will be perfect when he blocks, his hands and arms will be placed where it hurts and when it comes down to a battle, McEntee will be their spiritual leader. (David Walsh Sunday Tribune).

(2) When danger threatens in defence, regularly it is Gerry’s ability to be in the right place at the right time that rescues the situation. When opponents threaten to dominate at midfield it is the Nobber man gritting his teeth, doing the unspectacular that drags Meath back into the game, and when the attack needs support to prise an opening, Gerry is always available. (Meath Chronicle).

(3) 1n 1987 the best footballer bar none was Gerry McEntee simply because he was the powerhouse behind Meath’s control of the vital games in the Championship. It can be said without fear of contradiction that without McEntee’s consistency Meath would not have won the All-Ireland Championship this year. He played in 1987 like a winner, like a man who believed that he was the best and his team was best. (Sunday Tribune—Eugene McGee).

(4) For the previous three years McEntee has been "the crucial" player in all of Meath’s successes. He was playing at mid-field, the real engine room of a team and it was he who provided the real power for Meath from which the others benefited. (Evening Herald, January 15, 1990).

During this period Gerry also captained Leinster to Railway Cup victory. Gerry has made sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty so too have his family - for both his professional and sporting careers. More than we know and more than these few words can enlighten us. He has trained at unsociable hours, before work, on his own, far away, even when on holidays. Mick Lyons in ’87 was quoted as saying—"you worry when Gerry is training on his own. We would prefer to have him training with us ail the time because you are afraid that on his own he will do far too much. That is the danger with Gerry".

Gerry has sacrificed many moments (magic moments) for his profession too. After possibly Meath’s most memorable victory (which he thought he might never see), the Leinster Final win of 1986, over the Dubs, he was on a plane heading for Newcastle within an hour of the final whistle.

The day after Meath returned home triumphant on the Monday night in 1987 he was on his way to Limerick to work. He had to miss the Tour of the North (North Meath) that night and the reception in his beloved Nobber. Their favourite son was missing.

When Gerry transgressed in the All-Ireland Final replay in ’88 he did not shun his responsibility. He took his punishment on the chin. He admitted he was wrong - he apologised for his sin. He stood in front of thousands of his admiring fans in the Fairgreen in Navan and said "I am not proud of what I did - I was wrong’.

Truly, an example to everyone. It is a more manly thing to admit that one is wrong than to bury one’s head or hide behind a pen and paper. Let they who are without sin cast the first stone.

He bounced back, and flew back from Minnesota in 1989 for the Leinster Final only to be disappointed against the Dubs and still he didn’t give up. He was at work at 5 to 5-30 every morning four and a half thousand miles away and still he dreamed of playing again for Meath. He obviously trained regularly so that he could don again the green and gold in 1990. We’ll never forget these four magic minutes against the Dubs.

Yes, Gerry has been an example and inspiration both on and off the field. He has combined both football and medicine for eighteen years and achieved greatness in both.


Taken from Hogan Stand
5th July 1991