GAA Football

Where are they now? Former Tyrone forward Adrian Cush on his career with the Red Hands

Adrian Cush goes up against Down's Cathal Murray - now assistant manager of the Mournemen - during the 1997 Ulster Championship
Neil Loughran

Age: 47

Club: St Patrick’s, Donaghmore

Position: Half-forward

When did you play for Tyrone?

1989-1999. Down beat us in Casement Park in a Championship semi-final and that was me.

What do you do nowadays?

I run my own plant and machinery business in the quarry and recycling sector called USC Equipment

Are you still involved in Gaelic football?

You have to be. You have to put something back into the club. I’m coaching underage at Donaghmore. I’ve probably been involved every year since I quit playing at club level, which was 2007/2008. I took the senior team for a few years, I took Maghery for a year in Armagh, a very talented team who got their just rewards last year winning the championship.

What do you remember about your first game for Tyrone?

Mayo had beaten Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final in August and Tyrone were away to Mayo in the National League at the start of October. There was some experimentation with the rules – it was the first day you were allowed to take free and sideline kicks out of your hands.

I was 19 and I was marking a boy called John Finn, I’ll never forget it. He was much more experienced than me, a much better footballer. He was so fast, so strong, he was left footed, he was bombing forward and I found myself marking him for an hour rather than him marking me. It was a wake-up call.

What’s your best memory from your playing days?

I was very fortunate that I came along when there was a batch of really good Tyrone players. We won Ulsters at minors, U21s, seniors.

If there was one day that stood out, I suppose, it would be when we played Derry in the Ulster semi-final in Clones in 1995.

We were down to 13 men before half-time but managed to get across the line. But I’ve had plenty of great days with club and county, lots of good memories and plenty of great friendships.

And the worst?

1995, the Monday night before the All-Ireland final, I did my ligaments in my ankle and missed the game. These things happen, but it was probably in the years after that it hit me harder. The game was probably over before I realised ‘I’m not going to take part here’.

We probably always thought there was next year or the year after, but it was only when we realised it wasn’t going to happen again that it really started to strike home.

But there’s plenty of players who have got injured more seriously than that and missed bigger things than that, so it’s only a small thing in the overall picture.

Biggest character you played with?

At club level, I had the experience of Jim Carty from Devenish looking after our club for one year in 1995 or ’96. It was probably an experience that every player should have the privilege of experiencing, it was totally unorthodox, totally surreal – but we won the championship. He got the best out of his.

Another guy, Gerard O’Neill, played for us at club level and he’s one of those boys who, if he wasn’t playing, you missed him. And when he was playing you were thankful he was in your team rather than the opposition.

In the changing room, he was a brilliant jovial character, always fun, always smiling. He’s taking U10s and U12s now and he’s still a real character about the club.

Are you glad you played in your era rather than today?

I was honoured to play when I played… playing a whole lifetime with Peter Canavan, Paul Donnelly, Damian O’Hagan, John Lynch, Eugene McKenna, the Lawn twins, Fay Devlin, Gerard Cavlan, boys like that - all legends in Tyrone.

To sit in the same changing room with those boys, I wouldn’t swap that for the world.

Any regrets?

If you were being very critical, I’d say I regret I didn’t win an All-Ireland. But if somebody had said to me when I was 16-17 ‘you’re going to play for Tyrone for 10 years, play with all these great players, play in Croke Park’, you’d have taken their right arm off.

Tyrone v Down this weekend – who wins, and why?

While I expect Tyrone to win, and I’d be disappointed if they don’t. Down showed a glimpse of what they can against Armagh, they showed more against Monaghan and if they improve again, Tyrone will have to produce a big game to win.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Down take Tyrone right to the very edge, but I just think Tyrone have too much, and they have a very strong bench.

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