Tyrone All-Ireland winner Kieran McGeary now knows for certain what it is like to be walking on air.
The Pomeroy clubman is lapping up a dream ending to 2021 having landed a rare GAA quadruple success – an Ulster championship medal, All-Ireland medal, All-Star honour and the coveted Player of the Year award.
Life certainly could not get any better and even hours after he found himself parachuted into the history books at the weekend the affable McGeary still look bemused, indeed astounded.
Yet the catalogue of honours that have come his way and that of his team are richly deserved given his lion-hearted commitment to the Tyrone cause and his splendid leadership by sterling example particularly throughout a championship campaign that transported the Red Hands into a sporting paradise.
“It has just been an incredible year for us as a team and indeed for me personally,” smiles McGeary, “To have made it into the last three for the Footballer of the Year award was a massive bonus. I was up against two serious warriors of the game in Mayo’s Lee Keegan and my Tyrone colleague Conor Meyler and I could not have been in better company.”
But while the year has ended on a memorable high for Tyrone, McGeary acknowledges that it was not all plain sailing.
“We certainly encountered bumps along the road as we had to contend with injuries, the very serious Covid-19 threat and other problems. But we managed to rise above them,” he admits.
“I have been in the Tyrone squad for six years and in that period there have been many good players who have come and gone and did not get the opportunity to win honours so I am just more than thankful for the rewards that have come our way this year.”
And schoolteacher McGeary is in no doubt whatsoever as to what he feels is the primary reason for Tyrone’s surge to the top.
“From the moment that Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher took over they set about taking us to a whole new level. They played a massive part in helping us as players to achieve success,” he points out.
And he believes that the team were never more together than when they played their part in taking the shared decision to seek a postponement of the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry because of a Covd-19 outbreak within their camp.
“It was not an easy decision to make but we made it as a team and whatever the outcome was going to be we were prepared to live with that,” recalls McGeary.
He views the Ulster Championship triumph as “a massive journey” with his side only getting the better of Monaghan by a point in the decider before facing Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final.
“We knew this was going to be a mammoth task and so it proved and it was much the same against Mayo in the final,” adds McGeary.
And he is in no doubt that the passionate loyalty of Red Hands followers provided a vital spur in the team’s drive for glory.
“The Tyrone supporters are just incredible,” insists McGeary, “The atmosphere they create is fantastic. I think everyone saw that in Croke Park on All-Ireland final day which was a hugely emotional yet unforgettable occasion for us all.”