Hurling & Camogie

Tyrone boss Michael McShane sets sights on hitting unprecedented hurling heights

Tyrone hurling manager Michael McShane and his sons with the NHL Division 3A trophy; the Ballycastle man is seeking more success with the Red Hands.
Tyrone hurling manager Michael McShane and his sons with the NHL Division 3A trophy; the Ballycastle man is seeking more success with the Red Hands.

Tyrone boss Michael McShane believes his side can win back-to-back promotions and scale hurling heights never before seen in the county.

The Red Hands, currently sitting second in the Division 2B table, face leaders Meath in a crunch clash at O’Neills Healy Park on Saturday.

Victory will open up exciting possibilities for a group of players who have stepped up to a higher level with courage and confidence.

“We know that if we beat Meath, we’ll give ourselves a great chance to be in about a League semi-final or a League final possibly,” said McShane.

“If we don’t beat them, we still have another chance against Donegal the week after.”

McShane guided Tyrone to the Division 3A and Nickey Rackard Cup titles last year, and he has targeted another League and Christy Ring Cup double.

“We won the League and we won the Championship last year, and the players believe they can do that again.

“It’s not going to be easy, but the belief is there that they can do it, and they want to do it, because they want to go as high and as far as possible with Tyrone.

“If we were to win promotion this year, we’re into Division 2A and starting to play teams like Kerry and Carlow and whoever comes down from Divsiion 1B.

“You’re into a whole new stratosphere of things. And if you win the Championship, you’re into the Joe McDonagh Cup, which would be very exciting for Tyrone, to be at that level.”

The continued growth of the small ball game in the county is reflected in the depth of the Tyrone squad, and in results in the current campaign, with one narrow defeat to Wicklow sandwiched between morale-boosting wins over London and Sligo.

“Last year we struggled for numbers in the panel, but this year we have 33, 34 players at training.

“We have players who are injured at the moment and they’re working very hard on their rehab to get back, and the reason they’re doing all that, putting that much effort into it, is that they have a belief that they can do it.

“Absolutely they do, that’s why they’re putting so much effort into it.

“They’re training very hard, with a real push in it this year.”

Meath travel to Omagh this weekend with an unbeaten record to defend, three wins from three, but face a tough task against the newly promoted home side.

“For now, we have to just focus on getting ourselves there, and we’re very focused on this game on Saturday.

“We’re working hard and it’s nice to have the two-week break between the Sligo game and the Meath game, it gives us time to recover and to work hard in the lead-up to this game.

“It’s the oldest cliché in sport, but we’ll take it one game at a time.

“It was a bit of an unknown coming into this year, with events that have happened over the last few months.

“But we had a great start against London, and that gave us a lot of belief to drive into the next game.

“We lost to Wicklow, disappointingly, but we had a great result against Sligo.”