McCrory backing Hampsey to continue stellar season for Tyrone
He may only have six championship appearances to his name, but Pádraig Hampsey is already being identified as key to Tyrone's hopes this weekend as they face Dublin, with no less than Owen Mulligan stating he is the perfect fit to mark Diarmuid Connolly, whose suspension is up in time for the All-Ireland football semi-final.
The Coalisland man made his championship debut against Derry at the start of last year's campaign, but injury meant his only other appearance came as a late sub against Cavan in the Ulster semi-final.
This year Hampsey has established himself as a key figure, winning two man of the match awards in Ulster, which comes as no surprise to his defensive colleague Aidan McCrory.
"Even last year, you'd have been approaching the championship game and chatting to one of the boys about who might play, who might not - and Hampsey would have always been in the talking. He always seemed destined to be a big player," says the Errigal Ciarán man.
"Last year he didn't get a wild lot of game-time. And his behaviour in that was exceptional; he always worked hard and he learnt and he knew that his time would come. But he wasn't trying to rush it. He was just trying to be ready for when his time came. And this year that has really shown."
Throughout the league campaign, it was a regular criticism that Tyrone were not capable of getting goals.
In fact, prior to the final game against Kerry when they got two, the only goal scored in the first six rounds of the National League was by McCrory in the second game, a 1-7 to 0-10 draw with Dublin in Croke Park.
Often finding himself in an advanced position, McCrory represents Tyrone's new attitude, whereby everyone is expected to make a contribution to the scoreboard.
"Part of the way Mickey (Harte) trains, we all train to learn how to shoot. We all train to learn how to tackle," he explains. "It's not a thing of ,'You're a defender, you should be learning how to defend' and, 'You're a forward, you should be learning how to score'.
"He wants us all to be fit to do everything, because any one of our players could end up anywhere on the pitch at any given time."
As the game evolves, McCrory also notices the subtle evolution of his manager and clubmate Harte.
"Even Mickey lately with the younger boys that have come in - we've a few lively, younger boys in there and even Mickey at times gets involved in that," he laughs.
"Some of the younger boys that have come in have really brought a life into the squad and all the players - and into the management."
After 15 seasons in charge of Tyrone, Harte's longevity is no surprise to McCrory.
"Knowing the type of man he is - his determination and his dedication, he could be whatever he wants to be, and he'll be very good at whatever he wants to be good in, because he's just that type of person."