If Tyrone people are wondering how they have gone so far this season then just mention one name, Enda McGinley.
The Errigal Ciaran favourite has been the link man and the mainstay of Mickey Harte’s squad this year and it’s no coincidence that Tyrone have travelled so far with him in top class form.
When Tyrone played Down in the championship in Omagh he was taken off injured after ten minutes. He missed the replay and Tyrone lost. At the time Tyrone were written off and drifted to 20-1 to win the All Ireland.
Former Tyrone great Peter Canavan told anyone who cared to listen that Tyrone would have won had McGinley played. The words were lost in the general depression over the supposed state of Tyrone football.
Before that date in May, McGinley had been gathering man of the match awards throughout the McKenna Cup and National league games. His strong running from midfield marked him out as a midfielder who was really beginning to show his best form.
Anyone who knows Tyrone football knows that McGinley has been an ever present with Mickey Harte.
He was a member of the Tyrone minor team who won the All Ireland under Harte in 1998. With Harte again in charge he won two All Ireland Under 21 titles in 2000 and 2001. He was there when Harte guided Tyrone to the National League title in 2003 and then their first All Ireland later that year. He picked up his second All Ireland in 2005.
His pedigree has been there for all to see but this year more than ever he has blossomed into a player of rare quality.
He is scoring at will from midfield. He raced through the Louth defence in the qualifiers to crash home a goal and picked up points in every game since.
Last week he and Collie Holmes eclisped the much vaunted Dublin midfield of Ciaran Whelan and Shane Ryan. Holmes was a new partner but McGinley has been ever present.
While Tyrone received negative headlines both inside and out the county, McGinley kept faith with his manager and he more than anyone else drove this Tyrone team on to to new heights.
I spoke to him before the Dublin game and whilst I thought Tyrone would win I was convinced they would after speaking to him.
He was determined that Tyrone would play to their limits in that clash in Croke Park and so it proved. That’s why I was so amused when I read that people questioned Tyrone’s hunger. After listening to McGinley there was never any doubt.
McGinley has always been one of the unsung heroes for his club and his county. He always lived in the shadow of Peter Canavan and yet he kept his head down and worked hard to improve as a player. He has achieved that and yet wants more. People say that Tyrone could get complacent against Wexford but I tend not to agree. Too many Tyrone players have friends playing with Down and Armagh who have both lost to Wexford this year.
McGinley knows what it’s like to be taken for granted to an extent. Among Tyrone fans he was always there and yet he never received the praise and adulation he deserved.
That is until now. McGinley has now established himself and as one of the top mid fielders in the country and on current form is virtually a racing certainty for an All Star jersey this year.
It’s no more than he deserves. This year more than any other year the likeable and quiet McGinley has been the heartbeat of this Tyrone team.