Delivering an All-Ireland title in their first year at the helm, Tony McEntee and Gareth O’Neill set the bar incredibly high. Now they stand within touching distance of a second consecutive Croke Park decider, with Croke’s standing in their way.
It’s a partnership which works, but their midfield general Johnny Hanratty hasn’t quite figured out yet who takes on which role in their good cop-bad cop routine.
“I think it’s both bad cop… I haven’t seen a good cop routine from either of the two of them. Tony might maybe be a wee bit more sensible I suppose, Gareth would be tend to tell you straight to your face what he thought of you.
“But that’s the best way, because there’s nothing to be gained from keeping something from the players. It only holds back the player and the team, you’re better letting them know.
“They’re the sort of boys who you can go and chat to if you’ve got a problem. It’s a brilliant partnership that they have, I don’t know how come they’re on such a similar wavelength or how they’ve gelled so well together, but it definitely works.”
Hanratty has been chipping in with a few scores himself over the course of the Championship campaign, but the burden of scoring responsibility rests heavily on the shoulders of their two-pronged attack of Jamie Clarke and veteran Oisín McConville. According to Hanratty though, it would be dangerous to brand Cross as a one-man or two-man team.
“I don’t know what we scored against Ballymacnab, but we did it without Jamie even scoring. There’s maybe a perception that people have that we rely on Jamie, and I suppose to some extent we do because he’s a class act and any team would be glad to have him.
“But at the same time there’s a lot more to us than that, and if Jamie wasn’t there for whatever reason then there’d be someone else in there and ready to take it on.
“Jamie is an exceptional talent, he’s brilliant. And the frightening thing for opposition defences is that he’s going to get even better
“Oisín knows how to settle the whole thing down. If there’s anything needs to be said, he’ll say it. He’s the sort of player who can see if things are going wrong and knows how to fix it.
“He’ll slow things down, get a free kick and tap it over the bar or whatever, and when you’ve got a right foot as good as Oisín’s then it makes it so much easier to do those sorts of things.”
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