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Tyrone hotshot McCurry is doing it in style

By Declan Bogue

Darren McCurry sits back in his chair and pictures a ball curling across the face of goal, dropping with a thud on the grass on a sunny day in Croke Park.

Wide.

The umpire throws his arms wide. For a second, he thought there must be something wrong. But no. That was the last chance Tyrone got in injury time of their All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Mayo last August.

McCurry himself had won the ball off Paul Durkan, but could not equalise and take the game to a replay.

"I often think about it," he says now.

"I thought it was over but the sun half blinded me and when I lifted my head I couldn't believe it. I'd put that over 99 times out of 100.

"I'm an inside man, it's my responsibility to take those shots on. When they go over, you're the hero and when they miss you're a nobody.

But that's what it's all about. That can only make you a better person. We missed a couple of chances as a team but what do you do?"

The subject of Dublin is brought up. He will be back there next week for a Saturday night against the All-Ireland champions. And with the break in the league after that, he is looking forward to a night in the city. And they say lads playing inter-county can't enjoy themselves.

You sense that has never been an issue with McCurry.

When the Edendork lad arrived on the scene in the 2012 All-Ireland qualifiers as a 19-year-old, no less a judge than Owen Mulligan hailed him as '"different gravy", an interesting twist on his surname.

Both men share similar traits. They have a certain east Tyrone 'flashness' about them. Not afraid to try things out, like an outrageous dummy or a piece of skill.

Mulligan was a trend-setter on the training ground, the first Tyrone man to wear compression trousers - what others would call 'tights' - in training.

McCurry has a taste for flamboyance. He was given a fleet of football boots courtesy of Puma last year and he makes sure to get in a plug for Adidas. He has a new pair with his nickname, 'Dazzler', splashed all over them.

"Fresh," he describes them.

"I like to be unique. I don't like to just follow everybody else.

"Even with clothes, a lot of boys on the team would question what I am wearing going to training or going out, but that's just me.

"I like fashion, I like different kinds of boots, I like different kinds of hairstyles. That's just me and to be honest I don't care what anybody thinks about it. I like spending money on clothes and cars and stuff."

Most of his sartorial inspiration comes from what he sees on Instagram, but he also has a relationship with a menswear shop in Carrickmacross that keeps him looking sharp.

Necklaces outside the T-shirt? No bother to him. While on Colm Cavanagh's stag do in Las Vegas, he took unmerciful slagging over a pork pie hat.

He lapped it up, recalling: "I was wearing a hat you wouldn't really see people wearing.

"It was a round one, real fashionable. I'd wear anything. If it looks good, I'd wear it."

Just a few days ago, he got 20-inch blackout alloys fitted onto his Audi A7. He's not afraid to spend money.

Here's the thing though - in today's world of inter-county football, he is a total rarity; a tradesman.

Most players would accept a cushy number at a desk in a bank, but McCurry is up at the break of dawn every morning with his father Joe and his brother, along with a squad of 12 men plumbing for the family business, Mcc Mechanical.

"There's only two tradesmen in the Tyrone team at the minute, me and Hugh Pat (McGeary). He's a plumber too," he states.

"I'm up at quarter to six and away at twenty past six and have to drive maybe an hour to Belfast and I'm up and down on my knees all day. It's not like I'm bluffing about, I actually am working.

"I come home, eat my dinner and I'm away out the door and that actually is every night I'm out training or in the gym."

The company is engaged in Housing Association work on big sites in Belfast and Coleraine, fitting out new kitchens. Although he is supervisor on many of the jobs, he is also 'on the tools' too.

With so much time spent at the wheel of a van, he has found it difficult to maintain an athlete's diet. Every morning, he has eggs and bacon before getting out the door by half six. Cramming in an evening meal was proving so tight that he simply started employing a butcher to prepare all his meals for him.

These are the kind of fine margins that become enormous when you are in hot pursuit of an All-Ireland title. While the Dublin players have nutritious meals delivered to them, the likes of McCurry get home from training at 10pm before facing an early start.

Now with the new arrangement, he nukes some chicken stir-fry in the microwave to eat at 10am and some beef stir-fry with rice at lunchtime, much to the amusement of his colleagues with their breakfast rolls.

Not that he is complaining.

"If you're training as much as me your body needs it and you have to eat clean and the right amount of meals a day," he explains.

"It is handy now because I can have meals now on a Sunday night and they'll do me until Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night after the gym, me or my girlfriend makes them for the rest of the week so it is handy. A lot of the boys are on them now because it is handy. He has the peppers and all cut and you just bang them in the pan. It's some job."

McCurry is one of a squad of Tyrone attackers hoping to debunk the theory that they don't have a 'marquee' name among them as they set out in Division One once more.

Ask if he agrees that he, Ronan O'Neill and Mark Bradley are too small to win an All-Ireland, and the 24-year-old will rebuke: "If you saw what boys like Mark Bradley lift in the gym, they are as strong as an ox. They are well put together. You don't need a big man inside now."

Tyrone are getting ready for the visit of Roscommon tomorrow. Further down the line, Dublin are in the crosshairs. McCurry maintains they are beatable.

"On any given day anyone can be beaten. We feel that when we're on top of our game we can beat any team."

Confident. Fresh. Sharp.

Belfast Telegraph

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