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My late mother gave me inspiration to slot over crucial free, reveals McCurry

 

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Kicking on: Darren McCurry in action during the victory over Kerry

Kicking on: Darren McCurry in action during the victory over Kerry

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Kicking on: Darren McCurry in action during the victory over Kerry

When Darren McCurry was asked how many shots he had ever taken at the top goals of the Edendork St Malachy's pitch, he puffed his cheeks out and shook his head.

"I've probably hit hundreds of thousands of shots into these goals, I've been up here all my life. My home is just over the road," he revealed.

No other dwelling is as close to the top goals as his home and the pitch where he shot Tyrone to a 0-14 to 0-13 victory over Kerry on Sunday was practically his front garden growing up.

No wonder when asked afterwards about a successful sideline kick - the most difficult and impressive of his scores in the Division One victory - he thought of his late mother and stated: "I knew as soon as I stepped up to kick it. There's my home place up there (above the pitch). I pictured my mum looking out the window, watching me kick it over.

"I am sure she looked down on me here today," he added, to applause from some clubmates gathered around him.

It was a different side to McCurry, one we seldom see. Nicknamed 'The Dazzler', he announced himself on his debut as an 18-year-old in 2012 with four points from play against Roscommon in a Round Two qualifier. It led another flamboyant attacker, Owen Mulligan, to coin the phrase 'McCurry is different gravy'.

His county career hasn't always been plain sailing and he took a year out of county football in 2018, but lived to regret it as Tyrone reached the All-Ireland final that season.

A move out the field this year, helped by the emergence of Cathal McShane as Tyrone's go-to man on the inside forward line, has made better use of his talents. After being kept quiet by Monaghan's Ryan McAnespie the week before, a big reaction was required by the Red Hands and they - in particular the Edendork trio of Niall Morgan, Con Kilpatrick and McCurry - delivered on their home patch.

"We were definitely reasonably happy with the way things had gone in the first half because it was extremely tough playing against the breeze," said McCurry. "We knew if the score could be kept to three or four points at half-time then the second half would be massive and we'd be able to put the press on with the aid of the breeze.

"We could get the running game going and the early ball in because there were gaps there. I enjoyed getting the point from the sideline, especially here at my home club. You have to chip in and everyone does their bit, especially the lads at the back and Niall (Morgan) in goals.

"I thought Niall Morgan had a great game, keeping us in contention in the first half by kicking points like he's been doing here since he was 13 years of age. It's a good day, but we'll not look too far ahead of ourselves."

Indeed, for the first half alone, the only Tyrone scores had all come from frees by Edendork players, Morgan grabbing three and McCurry one.

In the second half, Tyrone's greater fitness stood to them as Kerry had spent the opening period bashing against a heavily fortified Red Hands defence, which wore them down.

"The arrangement is that Niall hits the long-range frees and I hit the ones closer to goal," said McCurry of the dead-ball situation.

"You saw Niall in the first half and those ones against the breeze from far out were unbelievable. I can't hit it that far. We've a great relationship hitting frees with the club. You can see how good he is."

The optimism was strong in Tyrone after McShane announced that he was remaining to play Gaelic football, and he made his way back with a second-half appearance.

"It's definitely great to have him back as a target man for the attack," said McCurry.

"As you know, Cathal had an unbelievable season last year. He's really strong, his runs are top class to find him with the ball and you can get the runners off him.

"He didn't have to do an initiation song, but we might get him to do one this week!"

Belfast Telegraph