Sport

McShane relishing Rossies showdown

Francis Mooney

TYRONE midfielder Cathal McShane has fond memories of his one and only meeting with Roscommon, a narrow victory in the 2013 All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final.

Many of the players who contested that Croke Park tie will be in action again in Saturday's All-Ireland U21 semi-final and McShane is looking forward to renewing acquaintances.

The Red Hand teenagers were 1-12 to 0-13 winners two years ago, and a repeat result at Markievicz Park will take them to a first U21 decider since 2003.

"We played them two years ago in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park, and it was no easy game then," he said.

"I'll probably see a few familiar faces, and it will be nice to come up against them again.

"I'm sure they have brought boys through on to the U21 team this year. They'll definitely be a good team."

Seven members of the Roscommon minor side of 2013 will start in Sligo town, while Tyrone have a more modest four likely starters.

McShane was a sub for the last meeting of the counties, but he has made massive strides since then, and is now an established member of the Red Hand senior squad.

He's one of just three seniors in the Tyrone U21 team, but he feels every one of the current side is capable of progressing to play at the highest level.

"We're all good quality players, and everybody is maybe good enough to step up and make the mark at senior level.

"I could name a few names that I think could make the step up straight away, and I'd say they will be on the radar, because the last two or three games they have played very well."

The Rossies are likely to get men behind the ball in a bid to stifle a talented Tyrone attacking unit. But McShane believes the Ulster champions are well prepared, having broken down Donegal's defensive system in the provincial final at Celtic Park.

"I'm not sure what way Roscommon will set up, but Donegal were very hard to break down at times, they were set up defensively and made it hard for us," he said.

"But we'll have a good look at Roscommon and get a game plan together, and hopefully beat them."

A one-point win over Donegal ended a drought for Tyrone, who had failed to win a provincial title at this level since 2006. However, McShane never doubted the team's ability to end a nine-year losing run and give the county a much-needed boost at a difficult time.

"We knew that coming into it, we knew it was nine years, but we had total faith that we would do it.

"We believed that we would do it. We knew it was going to be a tight test against Donegal, because they're a very good team. They beat Cavan and then they beat Monaghan fairly easily, so we knew it was going to be tight.

"All the same, we knew we could do, it, and we just got over the line and we're Ulster champions."

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