By Niall Gartland
FORWARDS are expected to do much more than just score these days, and Cathal McShane was content to forage deep in the face of a 14-man Donegal defence last Sunday.
Tyrone produced a composed, patient display against their neighbours to claim a fully deserved o-16 to 0-8 victory, and their tactical versatility was in full display from start to finish.
Nominal defenders like Cormac Munroe, Padraig Hampsey and Cormac Quinn all got their name on the scoresheet, while at times inside forward Cathal McShane dropped back deep to help in his side’s effort to prise open gaps in the opposition’s blanket defence.
Speaking after the game, McShane said: “Every man has to be capable of playing every position and carrying out certain jobs and today was a good example.
“Donegal were set up in a certain way and we knew we had to be patient, especially playing against a stiff breeze in the first-half.
“We’d taken a bit of learning from our previous games, and while I know we slowed it down sometimes, that’s something all Division One teams have to do at times. We have a different plan for each game and I think we implemented our work on the training ground to good effect.”
Victory over Donegal came as something of a relief heading into the fortnight’s break. Next up is Galway in Tuam on Sunday, February 19, the scene of a horrible day for Tyrone three years ago. Not only did the Red Hands fall to their heaviest ever defeat under Mickey Harte, but McShane was stretchered off with a serious ankle injury. It took him a full year to get back to the field of play, and he says he’s ‘proud’ of how he came through a period of real adversity.
“I’m not thinking too much about that factor, every day you go out and prep as well as you can so that’s our focus at the moment. But it wasn’t a good time a few years ago so I am proud of how far I came. The amount of hours and rehab that went into getting back was massive so I’m proud to be back training and playing and I’m looking forward to the next day.”
He also said that Tyrone didn’t lose faith after disappointing back-to-back defeats in recent weeks to Derry in the McKenna Cup final and Roscommon in their league opener at Dr Hyde Park.
“I thought we started the year well. The game against Derry didn’t go to plan, and Dr Hyde Park is never easy to go for any team, so I know it was a disappointment but we felt we were more than capable of getting a result against Donegal. We worked hard all week in training and believe in each other. Donegal always present a tough challenge but it’s about believing in ourselves and the system we’re playing and taking that into match day.”