Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Shea aims to make it a McGuigan treble

The McGuigan brothers Brian and Tommy will have starring roles when Tyrone face Wexford in Sunday's All Ireland football semi-final at Croke Park.

But earlier in the afternoon younger brother Shea will be part of the county’s minor squad that faces Meath in the All Ireland minor football semi final (12.15) also at Croke Park.

It’s the third time these sides have faced other this season, Tyrone eventually winning the Ulster minor league trophy after a replay in Breffni Park.

From day one you sensed there was an All Ireland title within their grasp, eventhough there were days when they didn't exactly set the world alight, but they still managed to grind out results.

Tyrone captain Ryan Pickering, who led St Pat’s Dungannon to MacRory and Hogan Cup glory, is delighted to be back playing again having missed the Ulster decider through injury.

“I’m thrilled to be back playing again. Missing out on the Ulster final was a major disappointment, but that's all in the past and n ow I can focus on playing in Croke Park," he said.

It's no surprise he has a very healthy regard for Sunday's opponents. “They gave us two very difficult matches in the Ulster minor league and getting through those really set us up for a good run in the Ulster championship. Since then they have gone on to capture the Leinster championship and I'm, sure they will fancy their chances,” he added.

The Ulster champions appear to be coming good at just the right time as last time out they were at their scintillating best in disposing of Roscommon, hitting eight points in the last 20 minutes.

It’s that level of performance manager Raymon Munroe will be looking for coming Sunday lunchtime.

Brian McGuigan (26) has battled his way back after two career threatening injuries and slowly but surely he's rediscovering the form that made him such a crucial figure in the county's All Ireland winning years of 2003 and 2005.

“When we played Mayo in the qualifiers I felt that somehow or other the game passed me by and I was much happier with my second half form against Dublin. But winning that match has to be put into perspective. We’ve won nothing yet and we're not even in an All Ireland final,” he said.

An unexpected bonus for manager Mickey Harte has been the emergence of Tommy McGuigan as a genuine attacking threat. Eventhough Tyrone exited the Ulster championship when losing to Down after a replay in Newry, the Ardboe stalwart emerged with his reputation considerably enhanced. He was equally impressive in the demolition of Dubin, landing up a number of well-taken points as well as cleverly engineering his team’s second goal.

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