Brian McGuigan is no stranger to adversity. Recurring injuries, including a serious eye mishap, have contrived to considerably restrict his involvement with Tyrone over the past couple of seasons.
Rarely, indeed, does McGuigan, older brother of Tommy, make the Red Hands starting line-up these days yet he is one of manager Mickey Harte’s most prized assets.
That’s because his influence as an impact substitute is currently proving absolutely central to Tyrone’s ongoing progress.
Having fulfilled nothing more than a cameo role against Antrim in the Ulster final when he went in with only a few minutes remaining, the Ardboe clubman found himself exerting a vital calming effect when despatched from the bench to replace his brother Tommy in the 43rd minute against Kildare on Sunday.
That afforded the quiet-spoken Brian, who was recently married, the best part of half-an-hour in which to make his presence felt and he certainly did just that.
Playing a deep-lying role, his vision, fielding and distribution had much to do with Tyrone’s ability to deal with Kildare’s late but ultimately abortive response.
Not only did he help to snuff out several Kildare raids but he had a hand in two of Tyrone’s late scores and left his imprint on the contest to such an extent that manager Mickey Harte was lavish in his praise afterwards.
“We are certainly very fortunate to have someone like Brian McGuigan to call upon from the bench. He is a quality player who has been unfortunate with injuries but who is still a very important member of our squad,” says Harte.
Even though Brian pulled the strings so efficiently during his time on the park, it remains to be seen whether the manager will opt for him in his semi-final starting line-up.
It is a measure of Harte’s commitment to the pursuit of success that Brian was sent into the fray against Kildare immediately after his brother Tommy had missed a scorable free.
Harte does not do sentiment — and that’s why Tyrone players will be even more on their toes when they resume training tonight.
Skipper Brian Dooher makes it clear that a much improved display will be required if Cork are to be overcome.
“The way we played in the first-half against Kildare would not do at all against Cork who showed against Donegal just what power and explosive pace they have. You could see they have the bit between their teeth,” insists Dooher.