By Niall Gartland
ROUGHLY 10,000 miles separates Sydney, one of the world’s major cities, and Greencastle – not one of the world’s major cities – but John McCullagh says he kicked every ball as he watched his home club’s agonising defeat to Gortin in last September’s Tyrone Intermediate Championship semi-final.
We can only speculate whether McCullagh’s presence would’ve made a tangible difference to the final outcome – the bare facts are that he’s a corner-forward and they lost by a point after extra-time – but the result certainly played on his mind and it’s no coincidence that he’s now pining for home.
McCullagh, who is best known for his man of the match display in Tyrone’s All-Ireland Minor Championship final victory over Cork back in 2010, is one of four former Greencastle players living within a couple of hundred yards of each other in Sydney; Sean Warnock, Christopher Gillen and Pearse Warnock could be back on Irish soil at some stage as well, and what a boost that would be for the tight-knit club on the edge of the Sperrins.
Taking a phone call last Sunday evening (well, it was evening in Australia anyway), McCullagh, who’s lived Down Under since 2017, said he’s given serious consideration to coming home within the next year or two.
“Greencastle went on a deadly run last year in the championship and we all got together to watch the games. Losing to Gortin was absolutely heart-breaking, Cahir [McCullagh] put on a show that day but we didn’t get over the line.
“As a Greencastle man you’d definitely question yourself – I’m not saying I’m any use but if the four of us had have been there, we could’ve made a difference. More than anything else, that’s why I want to go home.
“It’s great to come here and live the lifestyle for five years, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, but I’d probably be back in Greencastle already only for the pandemic. My girlfriend, she’s from Ballycastle, loves the lifestyle out here so I’d need to convince her.”
Today’s Ulster Herald is available in newsagents and contains the rest of our feature interview with former Greencastle player John McCullagh