Friday 17 January 2020

'Mayo have work to do but can go all the way this year' - McCann

McCann: Mayo have a great chance. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
McCann: Mayo have a great chance. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tiernan McCann missed most of the fall-out from the weekend that saw Tyrone's All-Ireland dream go up in smoke.

Tyrone's hopes ended on a Saturday evening in Dublin. But by Monday morning, McCann and his brother, fellow Tyrone player Conall, were on a plane to Portugal to join the rest of the clan. It wasn't in the plan of course. McCann was hoping he'd be busy preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final but when that trip was on the cards, it seemed like the best option.

"The chance came up," McCann says. "I didn't want to be around for the analysis and I was lucky I got the chance to get away."

So he was away for the furore that surrounded that weekend. The dismissal of Sean Cavanagh and Diarmuid Connolly and the notion of 'targeting' players flooded much of the following week's coverage.

"You just wonder if it was round two or three of the qualifiers and it was lesser players would there be the same fuss over it," wonders the AIB ambassador.

"I think Mugsy, Owen Mulligan, said it last week. Being targeted like that, it's a compliment. And if you were the opposition why wouldn't you try and stop someone like Sean Cavanagh? He's a great player, you have to make plans for people like that."

McCann of course came to national prominence for his theatrics after Darren Hughes touched his head last year which saw the Monaghan player pick up a red card. A similar incident this year saw Connolly grab Westmeath's James Dolan and throw him to the ground. On that occasion, both players were shown yellows leaving McCann sympathetic towards referees.

"Inter-county games now must be so hard to referee. They move so fast and then there are things that will be going on behind their backs. So they are never going to catch everything. I don't think it is anything new, I suppose you just have to get on with it."

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McCann established himself as a key cog in the Tyrone machine this year. They went unbeaten throughout their campaign until that clash with Mayo. And despite not getting as far as last year, when they reached the last four, McCann believes Tyrone are a better side than they were 12 months ago.

"I think this year was about consolidating. And I think we did that. We got promoted from division two as soon as we could. OK, we dropped a couple of points to Armagh and Fermanagh who were desperate for points but in the Championship we did well and won an Ulster title for the first time in a while and that was important to us.

"Against Mayo we fell short and it was disappointing but overall I think we have done some good work this year and laid the foundations."

And McCann is in no doubt that Mayo have what it takes to go all the way and win this year's All-Ireland title.

"They have some excellent players. Cillian O'Connor, O'Shea, and Lee Keegan is really good too. They were a bit more experienced than us too and I suppose they surely have the hunger as well after being so close so many times. They have a bit of work to do against Tipperary and that can be tricky for them but they are a good team and I don't see why they couldn't go all the way."

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