GAA Football

Tyrone players won't object to McShane move says Burns

Frank Burns says none of the Tyrone players will hold it against Cathal McShane if he decides to take a punt on a prospective AFL career.
Picture by Seamus Loughran

FRANK Burns says none of the Tyrone players will hold anything against Cathal McShane if he pursues an AFL career with Adelaide Crows.

The flame-haired full-forward will join up with the Crows this week and if offered a deal, the 24-year-old Allstar is expected to take the chance on it.

While nothing is concrete yet, as Burns puts it himself, the Tyrone players have begun to think of life after McShane, whose effect on the team when moved to full-forward last year was transformative.

“Cathal will be a massive miss to us, but we’re just getting on with it,” said the Pomeroy man.

“There’s no final decision made yet. But fair play to him, all his hard work – he’s a serious athlete. It would be hard to turn down an opportunity like that, getting paid to do what you love, so I’ll definitely not hold anything against him for it and none of the lads do.

“But there’s nothing set in stone yet, we’re not 100 per cent sure if he’s gone yet.”

Burns was man-of-the-match against Down on Sunday, operating largely as the deep-lying midfielder, although he did occasionally drift to full-forward in the first half.

He notched himself a point off one of those forays into an area that he spent most of last Wednesday night in, having operated as a permanent and effective full-forward against Armagh.

It was Conall McCann, just as against Cavan in the opening game, who occupied the number 14 shirt in the Athletic Grounds, and he started brilliantly with 1-2 from play in the first 13 minutes, before fading from the game.

With McShane out of commission, Mattie Donnelly sidelined for a lengthy but indefinite period of time and Connor McAliskey having opted out for this year, it leaves Mickey Harte needing to find a replacement.

“Just for the meantime, we’ll have to find somebody to play in there. There are many men that can play in there, I’m sure Mickey will be swapping and changing about to try and find somebody for in there.

“I’ve played in that role for the club before and up forward for Tyrone at times too. I suppose I’m a versatile player. I enjoy any time I pull on the jersey, I’ll play where Mickey puts me,” said Burns.

The absence of those couple of key figures adds to the sense of something very different about the Tyrone camp this year. Kevin Madden (coach) and Jonny Davis (strength and conditioning) have come in to the backroom to replace Stephen O’Neill and Peter Donnelly, and Burns feels there’s “a good energy” about the setup.

“The men that have come in are doing a good job. There’s good energy about us, as there does be at the start of every year, but there’s a good vibe about. Hopefully that continues.”

Tyrone will face Monaghan in Saturday night’s final, which will be an 11th straight McKenna Cup decider for the Red Hands.

The combination of their strength-in-depth and their attitude towards the competition have been the key factors in that run, and a fortnight out from a National League opener against Meath, Frank Burns says they are driven by the internal competition.

“It’s just in our nature, any competition we go out to play, we go out to win. There’s a cup at the end of it and it’s a case of going full-tilt too because there’s that much competition for places.

“There’s about a 35-man squad at the minute and every man is capable of pulling on that first team jersey, so when you’re out there whether it’s the first game of the McKenna Cup, you have to put in a performance if you want to keep your spot for the next day.”

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GAA Football