Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

Tyrone keeper McConnell considers calling it quits

Goalkeeper Pascal McConnell
Goalkeeper Pascal McConnell

The vastly experienced Pascal McConnell could have played his last game for Tyrone.

The veteran goalkeeper admits that in the wake of Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo he will take time out to reflect on his future, but with Niall Morgan making a good recovery from his cruciate ligament injury and Clonoe clubman Michael O'Neill expected to continue to provide back-up for the latter, McConnell may decide to stand down.

The affable Newtownstewart man, however, makes no secret of the satisfaction he derived from being summoned into frontline duty by manager Mickey Harte following Morgan's injury earlier this year.

"Those were not the circumstances in which I would have wished to return to the side, but I got my chance and I'm grateful for that," said McConnell.

"As for Sunday's game, Mayo are a team that have been there or thereabouts over the years and they can punish you. They have been on the receiving end of some sore defeats and on this occasion it was just so clear that they were keen to get the win."

McConnell, never one to mince his words, admits that Tyrone experienced a "minor collapse" in the second-half.

"I managed to get my fingertips to the penalty that beat me, but not enough to keep it out," he said.

"There has been a bit of talk about the referee's decision to award it in the first place but he had to make the call and stand by it," maintains McConnell.

"I think we endured a minor collapse in the second-half and we never recovered from that, especially when we had lost Stephen O'Neill, Peter Harte and Joe McMahon to injury."

McConnell will now focus on championship activity with his club Newtownstewart and will "take stock" in relation to the future.

Earlier, in the year McConnell, in relishing his return to the side, had acknowledged that retirement might nonetheless still be on the horizon.

"The ideal way to bow out is on All-Ireland final day at Croke Park. That is the one goal for any inter-county footballer. Anyone with doubts about that shouldn't be involved," insists McConnell.

"The decision on my future is for another day. I have had success with Tyrone and a lot of downers too which makes you enjoy the high points when they come."

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