GAA Football

Cathal McShane: Tyrone not far off where they need to be

Tyrone's Cathal McShane skips over Armagh keeper Blaine Hughes during the 2019 Dr McKenna Cup final. Picture by Philip Walsh.
Francis Mooney

Tyrone discovered that intensity levels in the Dr McKenna Cup fall far short of the pace of Allianz League Division One football, but Cathal McShane believes they're not far from where they need to be.

The Red Hands were unable to match Kerry's hunger at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday, losing by 11 points to seven in their NFL opener.

Defeat on day one makes this weekend's home clash with Mayo all the more crucial, and McShane says they need to gear themselves for a tough and testing league programme.

“We know that there's another massive game this week and if we can put things right when we've every chance of picking up two points then,” he said.

“I don't think we've a long way to go to get up to the level of intensity, cohesion and momentum needed in games like this.”

“Every player will be champing at the bit for Mayo. To be fair, we'll just go this week and get ready again. They obviously picked up a good win and played well in certain parts.

“We know that if we want two points next week then we'll have to improve on this performance and there's no better place to do that than Healy Park. It's a case of setting down a good marker there and getting off to a good start this year on home territory.”

The league is becoming more competitive with each passing season, demanding immense input from those who operate at its highest level.

But for Owen Roes clubman McShane, there's nowhere else he would want to be playing his football.

“Our games against the likes of Kerry, Mayo, Dublin and Monaghan are the games that you want to be playing. This is the Division where you learn the most. It's not going to be easy and there are going to be tough battles like this one against Kerry.

“If we can improve on certain areas of our game, then I'd be very confident of us picking up two points. But it will be a tough battle because Mayo aren't an easy team to play against. We had a good tussle against them last year in Castlebar and this will be no different. But I just know that we'll aim to improve on this display and move on.”

Mayo's visit to Healy Park on Sunday has certainly taken on an added significance, with a positive result vital for last year's beaten All-Ireland champions of they are to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle, even at this early stage of the season.

“You could say that we needed to get something from the game against Mayo. Obviously we were hoping to get the two points from Kerry. In the first half, we tried hard but maybe too many mistakes cost us in the end up.”

While Tyrone played five competitive games in the Dr McKenna Cup, Kerry opted out of their pre-season competition, but hit the ground running, blending cohesion with intensity as they got off to a winning start under new manager Peter Keane.

“They played very well, they're a team on the rise to be fair. In the first half there were a lot of errors that we can put right and if we do that then we'll be on our way.

“I think Kerry have been playing friendly matches against different teams, so they've still got their pre-season matches even know it wasn't in the pre-season competitions.

“Coming down here to Killarney wasn't going to be easy, and with a new manager they were definitely up for the match.

“Maybe we helped them in the first half by the errors that we made. We know ourselves that we can be a lot better in terms of our attacking and one point on the board from play was disappointing.

“The effort was definitely there and can't be faulted because every man on the team worked hard. But sometimes you slip at the vital moment, and things just don't go your way with the rub of the green which can lead to us not getting scores.

“Then, they would go and get a score straight away from the next kick-out. On another day that mightn't happen and you'd be able to pin a team down and go on to get two or three scores in a row. Unfortunately, that didn't happen for us.”

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