NORTH Tyrone had double cause for celebration last Friday night when both Ronan McNamee and Cathal McShane were recognised in the official Football Team of the Year at the annual PwC All-Stars gala function which was held in the Convention Centre in Dublin.
While the historic five in row All-Ireland winning Dublin team naturally dominated the Team (securing seven slots) both Aghyaran defender McNamee and Owen Roes attacker McShane earned deserved recognition for their outstanding performances in the Tyrone senior team this past season.
McNamee was named at full-back after a series of excellent showings patrolling the edge of his own square across the year, thwarting the scoring threat of a number of the county’s top marksmen in the process.
Meanwhile after registering an eyebrow raising personal scoring tally of three goals and fifty points, the Championship’s top scorer McShane fully warranted his selection at Number 14 in the All-Star Team, where he was joined in a potent looking full-forward line alongside Kerry starlet David Clifford and Dublin’s Con O’Callaghan.
Cathal McShane wreaked havoc in the summer just past, emerging as one of the most prolific players in the country. He puts his emergence as one of the key cogs in the Red Hand machine down to sheer hard work and perseverance.
“Last year I was playing further out the field and probably setting up more than I was scoring. This year being inside, I worked a lot on it and looked to play at a high standard. I think playing full-forward definitely suited me this year.”
Tyrone played a marathon twenty-two competitive matches during the course of their 2019 season, stretching back to the McKenna Cup. Cathal states that it wasn’t through a lack of effort that they came up short in terms of both the Ulster and All-Ireland Championships.
“In any big game you need the rub of the green at key moments and in the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final Kerry got their goal chance and took it which was critical, and we missed ours. It was disappointing but we must use that experience to ensure we learn from it in big games down the line.
“We are proud Tyrone men and we love pulling on the jersey so those sacrifices are worth it and we believe that in the future if we stick together and keep working hard there will be more good times for the county.”
Ronan and Cathal were also marking significant milestones in their respective club’s proud history as well by becoming the first All-Star recipients from both the St Davogs and the O’Neills.
The likes of Declan McCrossan (Owen Roes) and Martin Penrose (Aghyaran) were members of Tyrone All-Ireland winning senior teams in the nineties but were subsequently overlooked for All-Stars, while similarly back in the eighties St Davog’s Ciaran McGarvey also served his county with great distinction at full-back, only to miss out on personal accolades at the backend of the year.
In total Tyrone have won forty-seven All Stars since Kevin McCabe became the first winner from the County in 1980.
For the record the full list of Tyrone All Star winners is as follows: Peter Canavan (6), Sean Cavanagh (5), Philip Jordan (4), Eugene McKenna (3), Brian Dooher (3), Stephen O’Neill (3), Conor Gormley (3), Colm Cavanagh (2), Mattie Donnelly (2), with Kevin McCabe, Frank McGuigan, John Lynch, Plunkett Donaghy, Damian O’Hagan, Finbar McConnell, Fay Devlin, Cormac McAnallen, Brian McGuigan, Ryan McMenamin, Owen Mulligan, Justin McMahon, Davy Harte, Enda McGinley, Peter Harte, Pádraig Hampsey Ronan McNamee and Cathal McShane all have one each as did the late Cormac McAnallen back in 2003.