GAA Football

Allstar forward Cathal McShane spurns Aussie advances to stay with Tyrone

It was confirmed last night that, after weeks of intense speculation, Allstar forward Cathal McShane would remain with Tyrone instead of moving his career Down Under. Picture by Philip Walsh

TYRONE received a huge boost with confirmation last night that Cathal McShane will be staying with the Red Hands.

The Allstar forward had been widely expected to take up an offer to join Aussie Rules outfit Adelaide Crows, having spent 10 days Down Under last month.

Most Tyrone fans had resigned themselves to losing the 24-year-old, and even boss Mickey Harte appeared less than hopeful when he spoke to reporters after Sunday’s National League defeat to Monaghan.

They badly missed McShane as a focal point in that game, and his return – potentially in time for Sunday’s glamour tie with Kerry – will give the Red Hands a major lift for the season ahead.

 “It is a big decision to relocate to the other side of the world and pursue a professional career in a different sport,” said Adelaide Crows general manager Justin Reid in a statement.

“Ultimately, this was not something that Cathal was ready for and we wish him the very best in his endeavours both on and off the field.”

Meanwhile, in the wake of the intense speculation surrounding McShane’s future, Kerry legend Seamus Moynihan says the GAA has become “an open orchard” for the AFL to poach players from - but insists cutting the International Rules would make no difference.

Despite hanging on to the extraordinary talents of David Clifford amid some interest from Australia when he was coming through minor, the Kingdom have been far from immune.

They lost Tommy Walsh for the middle part of his career, while Mark O’Connor and Stefan Okunbor were two bright talents that are currently serving their trade in the AFL.

And Moynihan, speaking as an Electric Ireland ambassador, feels that the GAA is most vulnerable at minor level.

“Number one, it’s very hard to stop a fella trying it,” he told The Irish News.

“It’s very sad to see that we’re losing so many players. We’re teed up a little bit, we’re wide open and exposed to letting players go.

“The Compromise Rules are going on this year and while it’s a great honour to put on the Irish jersey and you wouldn’t begrudge guys that, I don’t think that’s where we’re going to lose players. It’s at U17 level, we’re wide open.

“It’s very sad when teams like Tyrone or Kerry or Offaly or Laois work so hard with development squads, club teams work so hard to develop players, and they’re being flouted as soon as they’re finished U17 football and taken abroad.

“We’re an open orchard and I think the GAA will have to come down on it. It’s not acceptable that they can come in and take our best players for absolutely nothing.”?

The former Kerry captain also feels the loss of McShane would have proved hugely significant for the Red Hands as the year wore on.

“It makes it so much more difficult. If we were to take David Clifford out of the Kerry team, you’re reducing your chances. You’re taking a marquee player.

“You go to any professional sport – take Firmino, Sane, Salah out of the Liverpool team, take any key player out of any team, it reduces your chances.

“Tyrone are in the hunting pack, no different to Kerry, Monaghan, Galway, Mayo, they’re all in that pack, but while Tyrone are still an exceptional team, the loss of McShane is a huge hit to their chance of fighting for an All-Ireland.”?

Kerry have taken three points from their opening two games, snatching victory over Galway following on from a high-quality opening night draw with Dublin in a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final.

Croke Park victories over the Dubs have been a rarity for Kerry in the last decade, but despite having led by three points heading down the home straight, Moynihan believes there will be no psychological hangover for Kerry later in the year.

“If they’d been beaten, it certainly would have been deflating in the sense of leaving Croke Park again defeated, but getting something out of the game was important, especially when Dublin went up a point in the closing stages.

“At least not losing in Croke Park, most Kerry people were happy and I think the management were happy, especially the manner in which they played.

“The same could be said of Dublin, no different to Kerry, they’d only three or four training sessions done. But January and August, there’s really no comparison. It’s very early days and what happens now will have no context in what happens come the Super 8s.”?

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