'I would not even want to think how much it is' - Tyrone's Tiernan McCann reveals financial loss after injury
Tyrone star defender back in business after winter filled with injury and regret
Anyone who has ever suffered a serious GAA injury will sympathise with Tiernan McCann's plight when the Tyrone defender was left out of work for six weeks after suffering a broken hand in their humbling All-Ireland SFC semi-final defeat to Dublin.
McCann can't pinpoint how the first-half injury occurred and after undergoing surgery, which included the insertion of three screws to repair his fourth metacarpal, he was forced to put his job as a Locum pharmacist (working on a freelance basis in Dublin) to one side during his recovery.
The misery of the Red Hands' tame championship exit was enough of a cross to bear in the dark winter months but sitting on the sidelines and missing Killyclogher's failed attempt to retain the Tyrone SFC title while being out of pocket further compounded it.
Based in Santry, it was convenient to nip across the road to the Sports Surgery Clinic for scans during his recovery period but being reimbursed for his six-week absence has proved to be anything but straightforward and he admits to still being stuck in the painful "regimented" process of seeking compensation, something he feels that is not properly serving players.
"My role is different to a lot of people. I am self-employed and I work per day and it is a bit more tricky than being in a full-time job," McCann says. "I am not sure if the way things are being done is the best for the players.
"I would not even want to think how much it is (that he still is out of pocket). I was despondent enough after the Dublin game. Breaking my hand was another blow and then there was the financial blow so I am just getting back fit again and looking forward to the year ahead. I am back working."
Although he toyed with the idea of training with Ballymun Kickhams had they secured Dublin SFC success, McCann would "never think of leaving my club" and he intends to continue the commute from the capital for Tyrone training as long it remains sustainable. Keeping busy is a priority and he's already had his fill of down-time after his enforced lay-off.
It left the rampaging wing-back battling with the reasons for their collapse against the Dubs, a game he has saved on his SkyPlus in his Dublin apartment and has watched on a few occasions.
"Flat" is the only word he can used to describe it and he admits the Dublin side which they regularly trade blows with during the spring is an entirely different animal when the ground hardens.
"Maybe they can peak because they know they're going to get through Leinster and they have to peak for the summer time. Unfortunately, in Ulster we can't do that because we'll get caught, we have Monaghan in the championship. I don't think we can afford to peak (later) maybe as much as others can," he says.
The 26-year-old acknowledges that they must tweak their style of play to compete with the big guns but he feels that Mickey Harte, now in his 16th season at the helm, has the personnel in his ranks to do so.
"Historically there'd be boys that would be on the panel for a couple of years that don't step up until required or their third or fourth year," he says.
"So I know we have plenty of potential in the squad that a lot of boys outside of Tyrone maybe haven't seen before and I'd be really excited to see them come through this year. With Seán (Cavanagh) being away there's a massive void to fill there. I'd be hoping younger lads come in and step up.
"If you look at the likes of Paudie Hampsey last year, not many outside of Tyrone would have heard of him but he went on to win an All-Star nomination. Hopefully there are players that will step up similarly this year and that's one way to make a difference."
The addition of Tyrone legend Stephen O'Neill as a forwards coach also excites McCann, who had his best inter-county season in 2017 as he regularly surged forward to kick scores and was on target in each of their championship games.
It didn't happen by accident, however, as hours of practice were put in with his younger brother and Tyrone team-mate Conall shooting from long range under pressure. Being regularly lauded for his athletic ability instead of his footballing skills gets on his nerves so he decided to do something about it.
"People always say, 'Tiernan McCann is a wonderful athlete', but first and foremost I'm a footballer, the athleticism comes after that. That's something that maybe people say, that the difference between me and my brother is he's a really good footballer but 'Tiernan's an athlete'."
Branded a disgrace in many quarters for his dive against Monaghan three years ago after his hair was touched by Monaghan's Darren Hughes in the All-Ireland quarter-final, McCann has let his football do the talking but with Diarmuid Connolly and Lee Keegan receiving similar attention in recent months, he feels some pundits need to draw the line with their analysis.
"At the end of the day we're amateur players. We're not Luis Suarez or these fellas getting 200 grand a week, it's not our professional job - but it can impact our personal lives. That's their job, they have to go out and analyse games and call it as they see it, they're being asked most of the time straight after the event whereas maybe if they had a chance to sit and reflect on it, they wouldn't be as personal."
With their Dr McKenna Cup final re-fixed for February after being interrupted by adverse weather, Tyrone's focus switches to their opening Division 1 FL tie away to Galway on Sunday week before they look to banish their Dublin demons the following weekend in Omagh.