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'I'm happy I have clarity now' - Tyrone star McShane on why he rejected AFL offer

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Cathal McShane. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal McShane. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal McShane. Photo: Sportsfile

Cathal McShane has admitted the lure of the Tyrone jersey and a potentially bright future with the county persuaded him to remain at home and see out his sporting career in Ireland.

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McShane turned down the offer of a two-year international B rookie contract with Adelaide Crows with the Aussie Rules club making an announcement to that effect on Wednesday.

McShane spent 11 days in Adelaide and took another 12 days to deliberate before finally making up his mind.

"I'm happy I have clarity now. I was down 10 or 11 days to suss everything out, see how I felt; that time definitely gave me a good insight into it, It helped me when I came home and put everything together to weigh up my options. When I did that I felt it was best to stay here at home in Ireland," he said.

McShane admitted he was "a little surprised" to take a call from a club agent, making enquiries about his interest in the game.

At 24, the Tyrone full-forward might have been considered too old to make the leap but his form at full-forward throughout last year's championship convinced Adelaide to have a punt.

It also represented a shift in recruitment approach from Australian clubs who have largely focused on younger players who have not yet made big breakthroughs at senior level.

But Dublin's Brian Howard and Con O'Callaghan and Kerry's Seán O'Shea are also known to have been on the radar since the All-Ireland final replay and resisted interest.

McShane said he gave the Adelaide offer a lot of thought and felt he had done well on trial last month.

"Everyone knows that I was giving it serious consideration, that's why I went out that long, to try to see how I would feel. I needed to know. In terms of how I got on, I felt I did really well and they were happy with me.

"I was thinking this is one that could be suited to me but whenever I weighed it up I saw where my game was at with Tyrone. I was in a good position coming off my best year and I feel I can keep getting better and stronger and that's why I decided to stay at home.

"I had to try to figure what was best for me in the future and I felt it was best to stay," said McShane who is taking a new job opportunity as a sales representative with building providers, the Keystone Group.

A move towards a more experienced player already with banks of senior experience was a relatively new departure from an AFL club but McShane felt it wasn't out of the blue as he had trialled before at an Irish Combine.

"I was at Combine when I was 17 or 18 so from that perspective it wasn't completely out of the blue. I had that link to AFL back then," he recalled.

"It (approach) was probably because I played well last year and the Crows were looking for an experienced forward. They thought that I fitted the bill. It was something of a surprise but it was something I thought I could make a decent attempt at too.

"They were probably thinking that the maturity is there, the development is there in terms of physicality and it's just a matter of fine-tuning the different skills of that game.

"I'm very respectful of the fact that Adelaide showed interest in me, they made me feel at home out there and treated me very well," he said.

McShane is unsure whether clubs like Adelaide will pitch for players so far into their 20s again but for now he is looking forward to resuming with Tyrone, perhaps as early as this weekend and the visit of Kerry.

"Everyone knows I love playing with Tyrone, I have represented Tyrone over many years and I've really enjoyed it. Whenever you get to pull on the Red Hand jersey, it's a special feeling."

McShane's decision will certainly cool the concerns of those who believe AFL clubs are too much of a lure for GAA players as a player from yet another top county turns down an offer.

Last autumn, rising Dublin stars Ciarán Archer and Seán Bugler turned down Combine opportunities, as did Kerry's Diarmuid O'Connor.

Irish Independent