Hurling & Camogie

Outgoing manager Michael McShane insists the future is bright for Tyrone hurling

Michael McShane's three-year tenure as Tyrone hurling manager ended last weekend Picture by Philip Walsh
Michael McShane's three-year tenure as Tyrone hurling manager ended last weekend Picture by Philip Walsh

MICHAEL McShane has predicted a bright future for Tyrone hurling as the county board begins the search for a new manager.

The Ballycastle man stepped down at the weekend as his three-year term came to a close, but he believes he has left the Red Hand game in a better place.

He guided Tyrone to a Nickey Rackard Cup triumph and an NHL Division 3A title last year, and saw them hold their own at the higher level this season.

“The main aim when taking on the job three years ago was to take Tyrone to a higher level than they had ever been before, and to try and improve Tyrone hurling, and I think we have achieved that,” he said.

“I think Tyrone hurling has a very bright future. You see the work that’s going on at under-age. The Celtic Challenge this year did very well, got to the semi-final.

“There’s obviously talent coming through at that level, and it has to be harnessed and brought forward,” he said.

McShane would have been warmly welcomed to remain in the post, but felt it was time to move on and allow a new voice into the dressing room with fresh approaches and ideas.

“Three years was the term that I took up when I started the job, and that’s the three years up.

“When you take on a job like that, you want to leave it in a better place than you found it, and I thought we had done that.

“I thought it was time for a change, for another voice coming in, someone with new ideas that will give a fresh impetus, that will give the team the chance to push on.

“We have competed well in Division 2B this year, and there’s no reason why they can’t challenge next year for promotion.

“And in the Christy Ring, whilst we lost our last three games, they were all close and we have competed with all the teams that we have met.

“With a new management team coming in, they can drive Tyrone on, and that’s what I want to see happening. I want Tyrone to get better, I want them to push on, and hopefully they can do that.”

Last year’s Nickey Rackard Cup success was the highlight, bringing to fruition a carefully crafted plan of development implemented by the Tyrone boss and his coaching team.

“The highlight has to be Croke Park last May, when we won the Nickey Rackard. It wasn’t just winning it, but to stand on the sideline and witness the level of performance made it so special.

“You can’t talk about the performance without mentioning the individual performance of Damian Casey. There were so many individual performances, but Damian’s haul of 14 points was fabulous, on the biggest stage of all.

“That day will always linger with me in terms of the pride I felt, it was just the highest of highs.”

And there were low points too, none more devastating that the sudden and untimely death of star player Damian Casey last year.

“You wouldn’t find the words to describe how low we were when that happened.

“To lose such a fabulous hurler, but to lose such a fabulous person at such a young age, it’s very hard to take and very hard to get your head around.

“It’s almost a year now, and you still find it hard to make sense of it all. Damien was a fabulous player, a fabulous human being, the leader of Tyrone.

“It was him that got me to take the job on, and I had a special bond with him.

“But Damian’s legacy lives on in Tyrone and will always be there. It was one of the driving factors for the team this year. Where Damian had carried the baton for Tyrone hurling for over 10 years, we were now all individuals, and collectively we were all going to have to carry the baton for him.”