GAA Football

Darren McCurry quits Tyrone squad

Darren McCurry has opted off the Tyrone panel for at least the rest of this season.
Kevin Kelly and Cahair O'Kane

TYRONE’S attacking options have been dealt a blow with the news that Darren McCurry has quit the panel.

Since making his championship debut in 2012, the Edendork forward has accounted for more of Tyrone’s championship scores than any other player.

Despite often starting from the bench, he managed to contribute 2-84 to the cause from 30 championship appearances, averaging exactly three points per game.

That put him sixth in the scoring charts of forwards from Ulster, with only Conor McManus, Michael Murphy, Sean Quigley, Mark Lynch and Jamie Clarke ahead of him.

But after starting six of their seven National League games in 2017, he was taken off at half-time in the final day collapse in Kerry and subsequently failed to regain his place in the starting line-up.

He didn’t start any of their five championship games last summer, but came off the bench for at least the last 20 minutes in all of them, scoring 0-4 in total.

His only start in this year’s league was in the opening day defeat against Galway. McCurry got no game time against Dublin and has played 41 minutes in total across the games against Kildare, Monaghan and Donegal.

McCurry cited work commitments and the difficulty in attending training as the reason behind his decision to opt out.

“We have a lot of work in North Antrim at the moment and I was finding it difficult to train three or four nights a week,” said Darren.

“That is the level of commitment that you have to give to County football and I feel that I’m not in the position to do that at the moment. I will concentrate with the club for the season ahead and I will review my situation after that.”

Harte is still covered for options inside with Mark Bradley (who impressed against Donegal) having played inside to good effect last year, while Ronan O’Neill may also feel the benefit in terms of more game time.

Meanwhile, Tyrone head to Castlebar this weekend looking for a first win over Mayo since a 1-11 to 1-7 success down west in 2015, a day on which McCurry top-scored for the Red Hands.

Although Donegal and Kildare are acting as a buffer between both sides and the relegation zone, neither Tyrone nor Mayo are yet out of danger and defeat would leave either side possibly needing a result on the final day.

Mayo have been getting bodies back as the league has gone on but still only used nine of last year’s starting All-Ireland final team in last weekend’s win over Kildare.

Brendan Harrison, Donal Vaughan, Chris Barrett, Paddy Durcan and Keith Higgins have all yet to appear for Stephen Rochford’s side, who have won the counties’ last two meetings by a single point.

“We always find that teams that are not playing so well early in the league, a la Kerry, or Mayo, or whatever, by the time they get to meet us, they seem to get a lot better,” says Tyrone boss Mickey Harte.

“Mayo are probably in the same boat, that they haven’t had their best team out to date, and sure they’ll have some of those players back by the time they play us.

“And when they have their full complement of players, or as near as possible to that there, they are very difficult to beat.

“We always have good battles with Mayo, but unfortunately the last number of battles we’ve had, we came out on the wrong end of a very narrow defeat, so we would be hoping we can turn the tide on that.

“We have two games left now, and certainly we would be needing two points out of those two games, I feel, to keep ourselves in Division One.”

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