By Michael Devlin
CATHAL McShane says he will never forget receiving the phone call from Mickey Harte to say he had been selected for the Tyrone senior panel.
Speaking this week in the wake of the announcement that the longstanding manager was calling it a day, the Owen Roes clubman says it was a special moment.
Cathal remembered: “It was a day you’ll never forget, receiving that call. I remember getting a call from the chair of the club who said to expect a call. When the next call came, it was a nervous moment. But it’s a moment I’ll never forget.
“That was my dream as a kid to wear the white and red at the highest level. Mickey gave me that chance.”
Cathal McShane broke into senior contention in the 2014/15 season and as he says himself, there were “a lot of big names in there,” players the younger McShane lad had watched and idolised growing up.
“What can you say about Mickey,” Cathal laughed. “I was probably nervous to get to meet him; he had been Tyrone manager for so long. But the more you got involved, the more the relationship got better and better. It grew stronger every year.
“I had a great relationship with Mickey and we always got on very well. I always felt that I could approach him if I had any questions, and he always gave you a straight up answer. He stuck by me too.
“If there were games that didn’t go my way, he still stuck with me and gave me a chance. That was special and I’ll always remember that. He had faith in me and he showed that trust.”
Cathal says he hopes he had repaid that faith in the intervening years.
But, he says, his one regret is that he couldn’t help bring the Sam Maguire back to Tyrone one further time under Mickey Harte.
“His passion and his hunger for the game, that sticks out for me. When I came into the panel, he had been there for a significant number of years of course. What I noticed was that his passion and hunger was getting stronger. When he spoke before a match or at training, you always listened.
“For all that he’s been through he’s a real role model. To get that chance to play under him was a real privilege and it’s something that I will always remember.” He added, “I’m very, very thankful for everything that he had done for me.”