Belfast Telegraph

Hard work beginning to pay off as McCann finally gets the chemistry right

By Peter Canavan

There appear to be some within the public domain who believe that Tyrone is not a nice place to come from and take every opportunity to portray the county as such. Indeed, Colm O'Rourke believes, "a smell" is following Tyrone.

So in order to try and get to the root of this "smell", let's have a closer look at the chief protagonist.

Who is Tiernan McCann?

This is his third year on the Tyrone panel. In his first year he received only a few minutes of gametime. His second year, a few minutes more and it is only this year that his hard work is beginning to pay off.

His second half performance against Meath was one of the main reasons why Tyrone got through that day. A qualified pharmacist, Tiernan has opted to be employed as a locum so as to facilitate his inter county career.

Like many other young men who play our game to their cost, county comes first.

So is he a "renegade", a "coward", a "cheat"?

His grandfather Barney, a lifelong Gael, who still helps out when it comes to cutting the grass at the Killyclogher club, wouldn't agree.

His father Terry doesn't think so. Terry too has spent his life immersed in the GAA, having represented Tyrone at senior level in both hurling and football.

He managed the Tyrone Vocational Schools team for 10 years and served his duty as coaching officer on the Tyrone county board.

Tiernan's mother Dianne is also a staunch Gael and her mother Anna is a well known figure in GAA circles around Ireland having served as the Scór coordinator in Tyrone and on the Tyrone county board for at least 20 years.

When interviewed on The Last Word this week, I made the point to Matt Cooper that McCann's family is steeped in tradition.

This point, some would say, is irrelevant. But it is important who you are and where you come from.

Tiernan McCann is aware of this.

Yes, he's made a mistake. We all have on the field of play, but his background is solid and his reasons for playing the game he loves are genuine as he endeavours to do his very best in a Tyrone jersey.

That's Tiernan, his background no different than many of the lads wearing the Red Hand jersey.

Yet, "a smell" still lingers .

Colm's correct in that there is a definite smell alright.

It's where that smell comes from that divides opinion!

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