Monday 22 July 2019

Midas-touch McGeary following in footsteps of Tyrone giants

Kieran McGeary will play in his fourth major final in 12 months when Tyrone take on Down at Clones tomorrow Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kieran McGeary will play in his fourth major final in 12 months when Tyrone take on Down at Clones tomorrow Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

You could be forgiven for thinking that Kieran McGeary leads something of a charmed life in Gaelic football.

Tyrone hadn't won an All-Ireland U-21 title since Mickey Harte's time as manager of that group, but he was captain of the successful U-21 side in 2015 under the management of Red Hands legends Feargal Logan, Peter Canavan and Brian Dooher.

St Mary's hadn't won a Sigerson Cup since 1989 and the Jarlath Burns, Benny Tierney generation, but McGeary was part of that incredible smash-and-grab job from last February.

With his club Pomeroy, they won an Ulster Intermediate towards the tail end of last year, interestingly under the co-management of Harte's son, Mark.

And it's somewhat overlooked, given the incredible points that Sean Cavanagh and Peter Harte scored in the closing stages of last year's Ulster final win, but it was McGeary who applied the final nail in Donegal's coffin with a classy pinged point from distance.

Now that he finds himself in his fourth major final in 12 months, it's unsurprising that he doesn't spend too much time dwelling on the high points.

"You try to run it back over in your head but it is sort of hard to remember," the 22-year-old says. "It was a split second decision and thankfully it went over the bar but a few seconds later you were back in position because you never know what is going to happen.

"It was nice to cap my first season in the Ulster senior Championship with that point."

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Some have said he is a natural successor to the Tyrone captaincy, but that day might wait for a while yet until Matthew Donnelly and Peter Harte have had their turn.

"That would be every young lads' dream but big Sean is doing a good enough job!" is McGeary's retort to the suggestion.

From having no real representation on the county squad for a number of years, Pomeroy now supply three players, with Frank Burns and Kieran's younger brother, Hugh Pat, all in the mix.

"More than anything, that man keeps me on my toes definitely," says Kieran of Hugh Pat.

"He loves it more than anything. He has been there every night of the week and was unfortunate earlier in the season with a knee injury but he keeps on going.

"He is the captain of the club this year again and the run that he had last year with the county and leading the club to an Ulster title was unbelievable."

As enjoyable as discussing the glory days can be, McGeary is keen to recall the dark days in sharp focus. Defeat to Mayo in last year's All-Ireland quarter-final is what keeps his motivation sharp as they think about Down, and the challenges thereafter.

"That day against Mayo, it's hard to think back now and breakdown every play, but it was a game that we felt that we had the better of things in both halves and it was one of those days when they got a slight rub of the green more than we did.

"We take every game as it comes and if we were to get through the 16th and jump the right side of the hurdle to get back into a quarter-final I think that we would go into it with a wee bit more of a bite this time hopefully."

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