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Stark reality of injury has hit Tiernan hard: Conall

By Declan Bogue

What initially looked like an innocuous coming together between Tyrone's Tiernan McCann and Chris Healy of Kildare in the third round of the National League is set to keep the Killyclogher man out of the rest of the Red Hands' League campaign, with younger brother Conall revealing his frustration at being laid up.

After the coming together, McCann was treated by the Tyrone medical team and later in the game linked up play despite hobbling, before Kieran McGeary came on as a replacement.

But an MRI scan last week in Belfast revealed a broken kneecap, with Conall stating his elder brother is finding it hard to be a patient.

"He is a bit down about it because he is just sitting in the house. He can't walk. He can't really straighten his leg, he can't work," the teacher stated.

"He doesn't live at home, he lives down in Dublin, so living at home now, with my parents and brothers and sisters annoying him the whole time, probably wouldn't help him. Plus, his girlfriend lives in Dublin so it's probably been a tough week for him because he is not used to being at home."

McCann cannot stretch the area and has to remain in a brace for the time being.

"He has to ice it every 30 minutes on and off, all day. So he is sitting at home all day watching TV and the four walls. He can't walk, can't go out anywhere," explained Conall.

"It's like that for a month. He wouldn't be used to that because he is always working. He has to put up with the rest of the family I suppose."

Tyrone's loss to Donegal in the Dr McKenna Cup final prevented them from prevailing in the pre-season tournament for the seventh time in succession.

However, a lot could be read into the decision of manager Mickey Harte to make a total of 14 changes to the starting line-up that defeated Kildare in Newbridge six days prior.

Tyrone have now played eight games in seven and a half weeks. Four of them came in an 11-day period in qualifying for the Dr McKenna Cup final.

The pre-season competition has always been used as an auditioning process for prospective talent, but Harte would be reluctant to trim his panel right now with a trip to Castleblayney to take on Monaghan this Saturday, followed by the visit of Donegal to Omagh seven days later.

Conall described how hard the fringe players were trying against Donegal at the weekend.

"I can remember, for me, last year I didn't really play much league football and then I got playing in the Championship," he said.

"It shows you too that it's all about progression throughout the year. Some boys might not be happy with game time at the minute, but it is a long season and boys get injured. The likes of Tiernan getting injured gives other boys a chance in the 15 and another player a chance in the 26.

"The competition for places is really tough, especially with Jordanstown being finished and Moy being finished. There are a lot of faces, a panel of 34 or 35, and it is going to be difficult for Mickey to pick the 15, never mind the 26."

He also admitted that the notion of holding back something for their League meeting was something both management teams were doing, Donegal manager Declan Bonner choosing to rest Ryan McHugh and Paddy McBrearty, while both teams played an unusually open brand of football.

"You could say that for both teams," stated Conall.

"In their last game they had a lot of players in reserve from the Dublin game. Likewise for us, we had 14 changes so you could probably say that there was a little bit held behind, but I think both teams wanted to go and win it.

"Everyone on the pitch wanted to win, but the next time it will be different."

He added that the complexion of the forthcoming League game in Omagh will be much different.

"Thankfully we have got them in Omagh again in two weeks' time and I am sure we will learn from this (McKenna Cup final)," said Conall (above).

"We will know what worked well the first day, in the future and trust the process. Hopefully in two weeks' time we can rectify the defeat."

But before that is Castleblayney.

"I have never played in Castleblayney before and it will be something new for all the players," he added.

"Any time you play Monaghan it is always difficult, especially when we have them later in the year in the first round of the Championship and there are a couple of interesting side plots to that game.

"It's about getting another two points on the board as we are not sitting in a good place in the league at the moment.

"Our focus is on that game next week, starting Tuesday night again."

Belfast Telegraph

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