‘There’s no point in allowing nerves in or playing with fear’ – Tyrone’s new attacking star

CATHAL MCSHANE IS ‘looking good’ in Tyrone training ahead of their Ulster SFC quarter-final against Cavan on Saturday week.

Cathal McShane is on the comeback trail.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

That’s the view of Paul Donaghy, the rookie forward who showed up well during his first league campaign for the Red Hands.

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Joint boss Feargal Logan confirmed last week that the 2019 All-Star resumed full training with the group and Donaghy reckons he’ll be seeing action very soon.

“Cathal has been back training for a while now and he’s looking good,” said Donaghy.

“He had a really difficult injury to manage and he had a lot of difficulty with it but he’s really mentally strong and he’s fighting his way back through. I’d say he’ll feature soon.

“It’s just going to depend on management and what way they think he’s going but he’s doing well.”

After flirting with a move to the AFL’s Brisbane Lions, McShane suffered a broken ankle during the league February 2020. A set-back ruled him out of that year’s winter championship and he is being eased back into the fray by the new Tyrone management.

McShane will rejoin an attack that already features Conor McKenna, Darren McCurry and Donaghy, though Darragh Canavan has yet to return to training with an ankle injury he suffered against Kerry.

Despite Tyrone’s attacking riches, it was defensively where their issues cropped up in the Division 1 semi-final against the Kingdom.

They shipped 6-15 in a heavy beatdown, which wasn’t ideal given its proximity to the championship.

“It probably was tough for different individuals (to pick themselves up afterwards) but everybody just realised that we had to stay positive,” said Donaghy.

“It’s a great learning opportunity because we got to identify in our games individually and collectively. We spent a week trying to learn from that before we start focusing again. Hopefully we can turn it into a positive.

Tyrone footballer Paul Donaghy pictured at AIB’s launch of the 2021 All-Ireland senior football championship.

Source: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

“I just think it was one of those days where you have to give Kerry a lot of credit. They were excellent on the day and on the other end of things we were just as poor as could possibly be. Sometimes games unfold in that manner and it was really disappointing and we’ve taken a lot of learning from it.”

Donaghy’s debut season has been impressive. He was top-scorer last year as Dungannon Clarkes defied their 33/1 odds at the beginning of the season to deliver the Tyrone SFC title.

“It was such a special moment for everybody in Dungannon and it just shows you – you’re competing with other top players within Tyrone and you’re able to hold your own and it’s encouraging definitely.”

A native of the Edendork club that Niall Morgan and McCurry line out for, Donaghy transferred to Dungannon ahead of the 2020 season.

“I live in Dungannon,” he explained. “I always lived there and I went to primary school in Dungannon. All of my friends were Dungannon Clarke’s boys and I sort of nearly always found myself up at Clarkes training even though I wasn’t playing with them.

“I just always wanted to play with my best friends and I just thought that it was the best time to do it and it turned out well so far. I really enjoyed.

“Regardless of winning the championship, they’re a great bunch of players, it’s just great to be with them and they’re all very ambitious and we want to go on and win more which is exciting because everybody is going to be doing their level best to make sure that happens.”

There was surprise locally when Donaghy didn’t link up with the county panel for the 2020 season.

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“It was maybe a wee bit surprising for people that I wasn’t (involved) but that’s in the past and I’m here now and I’m enjoying every second of it. I’ve just got to make the most of it while I can.”

Donaghy celebrates scoring a goal against Armagh that was later disallowed.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The 22-year-old has adapted well to senior inter-county football, particularly impressing on his debut against Donegal with a 10-point haul.

“I was excited,” he says of his debut. “Obviously it’s a great honour to be playing for Tyrone and there’s no point in allowing nerves in or playing with fear or anything like that.

“With how competitive our squad is at the minute, you need to go out and take the opportunities while you have them. You just have to do your best with every chance you get.

“The professional element of it and all is very enjoyable. You learn a lot so quickly, getting the opportunity to do things like play on the TV and play in those big football grounds.

“It is definitely a wee bit faster and a bit more physical. You’ve less time on the ball. You get on the ball less. Everybody has a good skill set. They are more than capable of taking scores.

“The amount of dedication that’s required. You give up a lot of your week to do it but it’s not really too much of a challenge because it’s very enjoyable as well.”

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