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'Last year was a really difficult year we went through. It took a lot out of us'

Cathal McShane admits Tyrone have suffered a hangover after 2021′s stunning success.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

AFTER SCALING THE mountain last year, now they try to repeat the trick and become the first-ever Tyrone team to defend an All-Ireland title.

For star forward Cathal McShane, some sort of a hangover was inevitable after such a draining journey, physically and emotionally. That has seen their form in the league suffer as a result and they now face a fight to avoid relegation. 

“Last year was a really difficult year we went through,” said McShane. He was speaking at the launch of the Allianz League retro GAA jerseys which will be worn on St Patrick’s weekend.

“It took a lot out of us. Even after Tyrone finished, we were straight in with the clubs and that ran until mid-December. Bit of time off and then it is about regrouping and getting back at. Right now we are not where we want to be.” 

allianz-league-retro-jersey-launch Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

And down a considerable chunk of the panel. Six players, Tiernan McCann, Michael Cassidy, Ronan O’Neill, Mark Bradley, Hugh Pat McGeary and Lee Brennan have all stepped away from the squad since last September’s success. 

“Some of the lads that stepped away would be very competitive Gaelic footballers and they’ve done a lot for Tyrone over the last number of years.

“Everybody has personal issues in life and different things that you have to deal with, and things that come along the way that maybe means you might have to step away. 

“But I’ve no doubt that if they had stayed this year, we would have been in a much more healthier position. The competition within the team would have been serious.

“I’m not saying it is not now, because it is. Up Garvaghey on a Tuesday and Thursday night, the talent that we have is next to none.

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“There are boys pushing each other on and stuff but just with the experience that some of those guys had, it definitely would have added to what we’re about. No doubt the guys who stopped away last year might not have been getting the starting jersey, but it could have been an option maybe to show this year they can push on, get that starting jersey and leave Tyrone in an even better place. As I say, things happen in life.”

Currently, Tyrone are sixth in the league table with Mayo and Kerry to come. They are safe in the knowledge that last year they were victorious in only one game from four. So, not panicking yet?  

“I wouldn’t say we’re panicking, but you have to be realistic about the situation,” he says. “We have two games left and we’re down the table and all the rest.

“I know from previous years we’ve been involved in different situations like this with Tyrone in the league so it’s just a matter of us sticking together and working hard and trusting what we’re about.

“Even if you look back to last year, I know it was a different format but the league didn’t go well either. We just need to make sure we’re working hard and trusting ourselves going forward and that more positive times will come.”

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Maurice Brosnan

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