McShane lauds character of Tyrone hurling team after Red Hands' unbeaten start to Allianz Hurling League campaign

Michael McShane admits to being pleasantly surprised with the resilience shown by Tyrone in fighting back for a draw against Longford
Michael McShane admits to being pleasantly surprised with the resilience shown by Tyrone in fighting back for a draw against Longford

TYRONE hurling manager Michael McShane has admitted he underestimated the courage and character of his players until they opened his eyes with a ferocious comeback at Pearse Park.

Trailing Longford by three points after conceding a 67th minute goal, the Red Hand rallied with three long range points from Damian Casey (2) and Lorcan Devlin to earn a 2-22 to 2-22 draw and emerge as Division 3A leaders.

“That real character that they showed, that real determination not to be beaten, is a real quality which I maybe didn’t know about, or maybe didn’t see that they had,” McShane admitted.

“So I was delighted about that. That’s a real positive that came out of it.

“We entered injury-time, they had got a goal, but the lads had the resolve to dig deep and find it within themselves to claw themselves back into the game, and were maybe unlucky not to have won it at the end-up.

“We won five or six of the Longford puck-outs in a row and we kept driving at them.”

Unbeaten after two rounds, the Ballycastle man’s first taste of inter-county management has been eventful, having watched his side also come from behind to beat Monaghan on the opening day.

And he feels Tyrone were unfortunate not to seal a narrow win at the weekend over the Leinster men. A couple of late opportunities were missed, including a goal chance by former Antrim dual star CJ McGourty.

“We got the three points which got us a draw, but we were very unlucky.

“CJ flicked one just past the post, Damian had hard luck with a ’65 and we could easily have won the game.

“But we came away with a point, we’re still undefeated and I can see the makings of a really good team there.

“We play Sligo in three weeks time at Healy Park. We have released the players back to their clubs this week, just for a week, and we’ll get back together next weekend and start working very hard.”

McShane has introduced a raft of emerging young players into his squad, while retaining the core of experienced men, and the formula is beginning to come together.

“We’re at the very beginning of a building programme. We have introduced a lot of young players to the panel.

“We still have a good spine of the older, more experienced players, but taking a lot of the young lads in for their first season at inter-county, we’re trying to build a team from the bottom up.

“When Longford got the goal as we entered injury-time, our backs were really against the wall, but the boys came out fighting.”