GAA Football

Shane McGuigan enlists Gavin Devlin's help to develop right foot

Derry and Slaughtneil forward Shane McGuigan has worked hard on developing his right foot in recent times. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

ONE of Derry’s key weapons for the next decade has had a helping hand from the Tyrone camp as he bids to take his talent to the next level.

Slaughtneil forward Shane McGuigan has emerged as potentially the Oak Leafers’ most prolific forward since Paddy Bradley, regularly racking up big tallies for club and county.

The 22-year-old will lead the line for club and county over the next few months, but has spent most of this year working on a very particular improvement to his game.

Naturally left-footed, McGuigan revealed that both club manager Paul Bradley and county boss Rory Gallagher had been pushing him to develop his right foot more.

The work seems to have been paying off. As Slaughtneil beat Eoghan Rua on Saturday afternoon, McGuigan notched two off his weaker side, most notably his first of the game from 40 yards on the wrong side.

Tyrone assistant manager Gavin Devlin has been in working with the Emmet’s this year and has been helping the young forward put in a bit extra before training sessions.

“Over lockdown, you had ample time on your hands,” McGuigan said.

“It was something Paul [Bradley] and Rory Gallagher both were on to me about. I know I was maybe a bit one-dimensional on my left foot, and that can only take me so far, so I’ve tried to bring this into my game.

“I’m happy with the two points I scored there. I had a lot of time over lockdown and it’s one thing I’ve really tried to improve in my game, and I’m happy with that.

“Since before the lockdown, Gavin Devlin has been out with me 15 minutes before every training, making me use my right foot. And then any chance I get during training sessions, I’ll use it.

“In lockdown, it was simply against a wall with my right foot, just getting that kicking motion. When we got back out on the pitch, that’s when I set the target of kicking points.

“I know there’s a lot more I can do with it, it’s slow progress but I hope to really show I’m confident off both feet.”

On the idea of coming up against Devlin at some point over the next few summers, McGuigan smiled: “Maybe! I’m sure we’ll have our few battles in the next couple of years.

“Gavin’s a Slaughtneil man now, he’s 100 per cent behind this team. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

It’s hard to believe that he’s still only 22 years of age.

He may be better known for his footballing exploits but McGuigan was lauded for his superb man-marking job on Hurler of the Year nominee TJ Reid for Slaughtneil hurlers in their All-Ireland club semi-final with Ballyhale Shamrocks.

Success is something the club have become accustomed to, with Slaughtneil having won 11 county and six Ulster titles across football and hurling since 2013, before you even begin to list their record-breaking camogs’ achievements.

They haven’t won the football title since 2017 though and had the air of a side that was determined to put that right as they blitzed Eoghan Rua early on at the weekend.

“Our own supporters maybe took it for granted, the Derry championships. Everybody in the county knows how hard a Derry county championship is to come by. It’s something we as a team have not taken for granted,” McGuigan said.

“We’re as hungry as ever to try and win one again. Four championships in-a-row, some people might be happy enough with that, but that’s not in this group of players. We’re hungry for more.”

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GAA Football