GAA Football

Tyrone not in Division One relegation dogfight yet insists Cathal McShane

Cathal McShane holds off Dublin's Paul Mannion during Saturday night's National League defeat at Healy Park. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

TWO defeats from two games is a far from ideal start to the National League, but Cathal McShane insists Tyrone are not worried about being dragged into a relegation battle yet.

The Red Hands were off colour in their opening day loss to Galway at a windswept Tuam and, despite a marked improvement on Saturday night, still came out second best against All-Ireland champions Dublin.

As a result, Mickey Harte's men travel to Newbridge this weekend aiming to follow in the footsteps of Ulster rivals Monaghan by taking two points back from early relegation favourites Kildare.

But McShane doesn't feel Tyrone are suddenly having to look over their shoulders so early in the campaign.

“Personally I wouldn't,” said the versatile Owen Roe's player when asked if the Red Hands were already in relegation dogfight.

“It is all about working hard as a team, keeping together and sticking together. I know that is what we do and it's a matter of getting back to training during the week and working very hard.

“Tuam was just terrible conditions with the pitch being poor and the swirling wind and all the rest, it just didn't add up for us and we didn't play well that day. Tonight was a big improvement from that apart from not being clinical enough.

“If we had improved on that aspect of our game we may have taken something from it.”

McShane was central to a lightning fast start for the Red Hands, bagging 1-1 inside the opening five minutes from a roving midfield role.

And having been caught early by Dublin's Con O'Callaghan at Croke Park last August, and again by Galway's Damien Comer the week previous, McShane admits it was important to get off on the front foot.

He added: “Yeah I think we targeted that.

“Obviously it was all about winning the throw-in and take it on from there and we managed to win it and come up the field and get a point straight away, which was a dream start.

“We then got a goal shortly after that so you couldn't have asked for better but Dublin stuck at it and came back well in the first half. We probably failed to build on the start that we enjoyed.”

McShane isn't wrong. With inside pair Lee Brennan and Connor McAliskey winning their battles with Michael Fitzsimons and Darren Daly, Tyrone's more direct approach helped them shade the first half.

However, a combination of poor shooting and unhelpful conditions contributed to the Red Hands failing to add to their half-time tally for 28 minutes, by which stage the Dubs had assumed control.

Thirteen wides, compared with just two from Dublin, didn't help the Tyrone cause either as they were left to wonder what might have been.

McShane continued: “We just weren't getting the right men on the ball, the right shooters.

“We have to be more clinical because at times when we missed they came up the field and scored and basically that was the way it was. We had a goal chance [McAliskey] in the second half as well and we didn't take it, although Cluxton did make a good save.

“We were three points down at that stage and if we had got a goal it would have lifted the crowd and that would have helped us but it's a matter of ifs and buts now.

“At the end of the day if you are going to beat Dublin you have to take the chances that come your way and we didn't do that and we just have to put our heads down and work hard and roll our sleeves up for next week.”

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