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GAA Football

I'm learning from the best in Stevie O'Neill: Cathal McShane

Cathal McShane has been one of Tyrone's star performers in Division One this season

CATHAL McShane has praised the coaching “craft” of Stevie O’Neill after Tyrone rounded off their Division One campaign with a convincing win over Kerry.

McShane has been one of Tyrone’s leading lights this season and must be in line to seal one of the attacking berths in their Championship line-up.

The popular Owen Roes forward bagged three points from play in Tyrone’s five-point win over Kerry and says he’s learning a few tricks of the trade from the legendary O’Neill who joined Mickey Harte’s backroom team this season.

“Stevie has been there and done it,” said McShane.

“You can tell with the craft that he has and you can see how he was such an excellent footballer. It’s just different wee drills and bits of advice that always helps and we try to take that on board to make ourselves better.”

The 2015 U21 All-Ireland winner also insisted the Tyrone camp is unaffected by the critics who suggest the Red Hands must become more attack-minded to stand any chance of All-Ireland success.

“We just ignore that because we’re working on playing attacking football,” he said.

“Stevie O’Neill is in and we’re doing a lot of offensive drills to try and make that better. We are an attacking team and I think we did that [against Kerry].

“We’re trying to improve on our attacking football all the time.”

McShane burst onto the senior scene in the months after their U21 All-Ireland success. Over the last three seasons, though, he’s been in and out of the starting line-up but his performances this year suggest he has well and truly acclimatised to the senior ranks.

“The step up is massive. There’s a lot more craft involved [at senior level] and you have to learn to play the game the way the senior men do.

“At U21, we’d obviously a good year in our second last year and reached the Ulster final in our last year.

“There are a lot of men that have been there before and have the experience. You need a couple of years under your belt. You just have to keep working hard and earn your spot on the team.”

McShane is also feeling the benefits of being introduced to strength and conditioning programmes during his minor days and feels stronger for it.

“I mind back in the minors we had access to strength and conditioning training. You try your best to get your sessions in during the winter and you work really hard to allow yourself to perform to the best of your ability now.

“We’ve an excellent coach in there in Peter Donnelly and we have excellent programmes to make sure we’re doing all the right work. Obviously you need to be physical but you need to be able to cover the ground as well. It’s just hard work away from the field and then trying to carry it onto the field.”

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