SUNDAY’S winner-takes-all ‘Super Eight’ clash against Donegal holds an extra special resonance for Tyrone youngster Cathal McShane.
Living only a stone’s thrown from the border, the Leckpatrick man has strong family connections with Tyrone’s immediate county to the west.
His grandmother Bridget McShane, originally from Tory Island off the Donegal coast, sadly passed away on July 14 – the same date that Tyrone’s trounced Roscommon in the inaugural round of the ‘Super Eights’.
Cathal was informed of his granny’s passing in the immediate aftermath of the game, but the 22-year-old honoured her memory by scoring two nerveless second-half points in the Red Hands’ narrow defeat to Dublin a week later.
“It was difficult obviously with my granny passing. After it was all out of the way I just had to get my head right and prepare the best I could. I felt I did that.
“Going into the Dublin game, we hadn’t played them much recently. It’s always a special occasion so we went out and did our best. In the first-half we weren’t really happy but we did better in the second-half.”
While his granny eventually settled in Glenmornan, McShane has cousins who still reside in Tory Island and Falcarragh.
There’s inevitably a bit of good-natured banter as the two sides prepare to meet in such a high-profile encounter, and he’s taking it all in his stride.
“I know from living close to the border that there’s a right bit of banter between my relations down in Donegal.
“I’ve chatted to a few cousins and they’re excited about the game and they’re looking forward to it.
“I just keep quiet and get on with it. They’re great people to be fair.”
The full interview with Cathal McShane is in this week’s Gaelic Life, in shops now or available here.