Cathal McShane is the 'missing piece to the jigsaw' for Tyrone
Tyrone left it late to dig out a win against local rivals Derry, only pulling away from the Allianz Leagues Division Four champions after being shook to the core by a 55th minute goal.
Derry failed to push on though and Tyrone outscored Derry by 1-5 to 0-1 for the remainder of the game. Crucial to their win was the role of full-forward Cathal McShane, who Irish Independent GAA reporter Donnchadh Boyle described as the possible 'missing piece of the puzzle' for last years beaten All-Ireland finalists.
"In McShane, they seemed to have found the piece of the puzzle that's been missing, McShane was midfield in that under twenty-one team that won the All-Ireland, but apparently he plays a lot of club football at full-forward, so if he is the piece of the jigsaw that's been missing, it's a big piece," said Boyle on The Throw-In podcast, in association with Bord Gais Energy.
"He certainly gives them something different. If they can go long and still have all those athletes around the middle who are so good at that running game, they need another string to their bow and they're well on their way to finding it."
McShane at full-forward allows the Tyrone team to transition directly up the field with great speed by going 'route one'. It has been crucial in Tyrone's move from defensive football towards a more attacking brand of football, focused on kick passing.
GAA reporter Michael Verney heaped on the praise for the Owen Roes club-man, with his 'ability to kick points from anywhere' making him a brilliant target-man for the Red Hands.
"[He] has always had the talent but parked in around [the square], he's so good in the air and he can kick points from anywhere," said Verney.
Boyle said the move towards a kicking style of football has been long in development by Tyrone with the most dramatic example shown in Tyrone's 2017 league meeting with Cavan, which Tyrone won by 0-19 to 1-9, with McShane giving the role more potency as he proved when they beat Dublin in this years league meeting at Croke Park.
"I remember covering Cavan Tyrone in the league in 2017 and Tyrone had Sean Cavanagh and Mattie Donnelly paired in the full-forward line, so they have been aware of their deficiencies in that regard.
"Sometimes they just didn't have the players or hadn't practiced it enough."
Verney warned that Tyrone will have to measure their use of the kick pass against defensive teams as loose passes in kept an extremely defensive Derry team in the game.
"They played the kicking style and it didn't always work against the blanket defence. But it does seem that they seem to be persisting with that with a goal of trying to beat Dublin or trying to beat someone in an All-Ireland Final or semi-final," said Verney.