Monday 5 December 2016

Pub business gives Tyrone legend new lease of life after eye scare

Published 21/08/2015 | 02:30

19 August 2015; In attendance at the announcement of the GPA’s Former Players Event which takes place in Croke Park on Saturday, September 19th, at 2.30pm are former players, from left to right, Sligo footballer Dara McGarty, Tyrone footballer Brian McGuigan, Dublin footballer Tony Hanahoe, Kilkenny hurler Eddie Brennan and Kildare footballer Dermot Earley. Dublin City Centre. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
19 August 2015; In attendance at the announcement of the GPA’s Former Players Event which takes place in Croke Park on Saturday, September 19th, at 2.30pm are former players, from left to right, Sligo footballer Dara McGarty, Tyrone footballer Brian McGuigan, Dublin footballer Tony Hanahoe, Kilkenny hurler Eddie Brennan and Kildare footballer Dermot Earley. Dublin City Centre. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Sometimes in adversity, comes opportunity, and no one knows that better than Brian McGuigan. In 2006 when an eye injury threatened his livelihood as a joiner and his career as a footballer, Brian received an opportunity in the form of a short-term lease of a local pub.

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Now, almost a decade later, the former All Star is still there and business is good.

"In 2006 I broke my leg and I was out of work for three or four months, and then a month after going back to work I injured my eye and that put me out for another six months," he says.

"I was approached to take over the lease of the bar for the six months and I said I would because I wouldn't have much else to do and now, nine years later, I'm still there."

Thankfully for Tyrone, Brian's career was not cut short due to injury, and balancing pub and football life turned out to be easier than expected due to the help of his father Frank, himself a Red Hand legend.

"I was in a good situation because my father was there so I had someone I trusted to look after things when I'd be away with Tyrone," he explains.

"Because of him I'd be able to concentrate fully on a big game coming up so I was lucky in that regard. I knew it was in safe hands."

The playmaker thinks that many players today are choosing education and careers around football, and speaking from experience, it's not something he would advocate.

"I would be a good example of it myself, I went to college in Belfast and got my HND in Sports, and then I went to England to get my degree in 2001," he says.

"All I had to do was one year to get my degree but I didn't finish it. I was over there for about two months and Tyrone were going well in the U-21s, and I just felt I was missing something at home.

"If I could go back now, I would have finished my degree, and that's one of the biggest regrets I have."

With business going well, McGuigan has added his expertise to the world of punditry, writing for Gaelic Life and also contributing to Newstalk.

"It's good because it keeps you in touch with the game. I wouldn't like to be totally away from it, I enjoy still being part of it in some way," he says.

While the three-time All-Ireland winner is now on the pundit side of the fence, he does worry that the media have too much of an effect on public perception.

"I think that the public are afraid to have their own opinions on people or teams," he says. "They listen to the pundits and they believe it's gospel, and that isn't right. People need to make up their own minds more."

The Ardboe man would like to see a more positive outlook by the media, especially the TV analysts, instead of a constant focus on the negative.

"We need to talk about the good things in the GAA, and Tyrone for that matter, instead of talking about the other things," he says.

"I believe that football analysts are different to the hurling analysts. I could sit in and listen to Donal Óg Cusack or Eddie Brennan talking hurling all day.

"I think that they (football analysts) go with the wind sometimes and enjoy criticising the game, rather than embracing it."

A cultured performer, a lover of the game and a shrewd analyst - going with the wind isn't a path McGuigan will follow.

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