By Barry O’Donnell
EVEN though they were once again frustated in their bid to win the top prize in the game, Cathal McShane is excited about Tyrone’s future prospects.
Despite McShane’s own best efforts, Tyrone were beaten in last month’s All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry, but he believes that there’s no need for despondency.
Tyrone have been frustrated in their bid to land the top prize in the game, the Sam Maguire trophy since 2008, but with some exciting young talent emerging through the ranks on the back of the Under-20s Ulster title triumph, Cathal is upbeat about the O’Neill County’s future prospects.
“The more men you have champing at the bit and ready to step up the better chance we have of getting to more finals and winning silverware. We did have a serious squad in place this past season and we had lots of men able to step up when needed.
“There was plenty of men challenging for different positions. You knew if you had a jersey on the starting fifteen you were lucky because the competition was so serious. There was no room for error. If someone didn’t play well there was men on the bench capable of coming on and doing just as good a job, if not better. Having that competition is key and is healthy for any squad.”
Tyrone played a marathon twenty-two competitive matches during the course of their 2019 season, stretching back to the McKenna Cup. Cathal states that it wasn’t through a lack of effort that they came up short in terms of both the Ulster and All-Ireland Championships.
“At the outset of the year we wanted to win the Ulster title, that was our first target. It didn’t go to plan against Donegal, so we had to dust ourselves down and go again in the Qualifiers, something which has worked well for Tyrone in the past. Again we managed to do that and progress to the semi-finals, and but for a decision here or there we could have made a second All-Ireland Final in a row.
“In any big game you need the rub of the green at key moments and in the second half Kerry got their goal chance and took it which was critical, and we missed ours. It was disappointing but we must use that experience to ensure we learn from it in big games down the line.
“The team worked hard, with lads staying behind after training to work on things and drills we looked to repeat then in games. A lot of hours went into that and there is a lot of sacrifice goes into it.
“We are proud Tyrone men and we love pulling on the jersey so those sacrifices are worth it and we believe that in the future if we stick together and keep working hard there will be more good times for the county.”
McShane, who had a stunning season at full-forward, puts his emergence as one of the key cogs in the Red Hand machine down to sheer hard work and perseverance.
“I was always confident that I could secure a spot because I knew I was working hard enough. It wasn’t just about cementing my place at full-forward, we were looking at different things. I did particularly well at a few training sessions at full-forward so I thought then I could maybe be picked there. I was stationed there in a few of the later league games and it went well. After that we started to think it was a possibility to stick with me there in the Championship.
“Last year I was playing further out the field and probably setting up more than I was scoring. This year being inside, I worked a lot on it and looked to play at a high standard. I think playing full-forward definitely suited me this year.”