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'Dublin Have Targeted Them. I've Watched Jonny Cooper Handshake/Bear Hug'

'Dublin Have Targeted Them. I've Watched Jonny Cooper Handshake/Bear Hug'
By PJ Browne
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Owen Mulligan looks at Cathal McShane and thinks he's exactly what Tyrone needed.

McShane has scored a remarkable 3-42 so far in this year's championship, taking to his new full-forward role like it's the one he was born to play.

"There's been too many forwards in Tyrone that hasn't brought that physical presence, that haven't won their own ball," said three-time All-Ireland winner Mulligan.

"He's winning the 60/40 balls on the ground, in the air - that's what needed.

"I know when I played, we had Stephen O'Neill and Peter Canavan, they'd be winning me ball and he's winning great primary ball and setting players up.

"He's playing with his head up this year which I thought he wasn't last year when he was being brought out to half-forward and midfield.

"He looked a bit lost in a couple of games but full-forward, Harte's masterstroke with Cormac McAnallen [moving him from midfield to full-back], he's the same in full-forward - that's the equivalent.


"If he keeps going, he's a potential All-Star, to be honest. He's exceptional, his shooting has improved, the brain is working, he's bringing other people into the game."

As the championship rolls to the business end, McShane will undoubtedly receive increased attention from opposing defences.

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"Men teams target are McShane, Mattie Donnelly and Petey Harte," said Mulligan.

You target them three. It's been there before. They've been targeted and you come up short. Them players have to be strong-minded to know they've been targeted.

Dublin have targeted them all the time. People go and shake their hand, they get targeted straight away. I've watched Jonny Cooper handshake/bear hug. That's the way they have to do it.

Them [Tyrone] boys have to be mentally strong to get on with that. They're mentally strong, they're great players. They're our main men. Them players need to rise above that and get on the ball.

To be fair, McShane has got his fair share of battles, but at the end of the day, he's come out on top of most of them. Donegal, was probably the only one he didn't really [win].

Mulligan looks at the hard edge which Dublin have brought in defence, brought by what he calls "nasty wee men" - a phrase he uses to express admiration rather than disapproval - and wishes Tyrone would do more of the same.


"I wish sometimes the Tyrone defence would do that too. There's only a couple of them that do that. The days of putting your hands across a man's chest or stomach are over.

"You look at that Kerry and Mayo game, that's the way it should be - people want to see that. People want to see the referees letting it go, the hard tackle. It's not basketball at the end of the day.

"You can't train a player to be nasty. It's either in you or it's not. We had a full team of them: Hateful bastards (laughs). Even at club level, you used to mark Ricey [Ryan McMenamin], you used to mark Conor Gormley, that's what you wanted. Don't get me wrong, you shake the hand after the game - over.


"If Tyrone don't learn to do that in the last 10 minutes against the bigger teams, close the games out, you'll come up short."

With Dublin and Tyrone both already through to the All-Ireland semi-finals, there is likely to be some shadow boxing when they meet in Healy Park this weekend.

"You have to play Dublin at their own game," said Mulligan.


"The last 10, 15 minutes, Dublin will empty the bench and look who they bring on. I'm not saying Tyrone have as good a bench as them, but they've some serious players as well. They've scored in championships, they're championship-hardened. Tyrone should do what Dublin do and match them.

"Jesus, man, it's serious and it'll take a massive effort to beat them for the five-in-a-row. I think Tyrone's the only team that can challenge them."

Picture credit: Sportsfile

See Also: There Is Hard Work, And Then There Is What Adrian Mullen Did During Semi-Final Win

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