McCullagh adds zest to Premier

Tipperary’s new import Conal McCullagh is confident that the Premier County can challenge Munster football’s established order.

The 25-year old is looking to instil the mentality of his native Tyrone into the Tipperary set-up as they look to mount a sustained challenge to provincial heavyweights Cork and Kerry.

McCullagh completed a club transfer from Glenelly to Clonmel Commercials last September and has now linked up with Peter Creedon’s Tipperary squad.

McCullagh played minor and U21 football for Tyrone and in pre-season challenge games thus far, he has impressed in the half-forward line for the Premier outfit.

McCullagh is relishing the prospect of making a notable impact in 2014 and has his sights firmly set on pushing the big guns in Munster.

“Even when Tyrone are playing a team that are going better than them, and who seem to be favourites, they don’t really care,” he said.

“It’s an ‘everybody doesn’t want us to win’ mentality but let’s go out and prove them wrong. Some of the lads in the Tipp outfit, they don’t know how good they are.

“A lot of it is down to confidence. A lot of these lads won a minor All-Ireland (2011) and beat a very good Dublin team.

“There’s no reason why they can’t push on as seniors and beat big teams. As minors, they didn’t fear anyone and there’s no reason why they can’t transfer that. They have no reason to fear Kerry or Cork, especially with Cork losing a lot of men this year. It’s a perfect time to push on.”

McCullagh, who lives and works in Clonmel, is confident he has made the right choice after transferring club and county allegiances.

“All of my friends at home, even the lads that aren’t in my club, thought it was a great shout to get my career going again.

“They thought it was an out of the blue move, going to Tipperary but even before I came down here, I kept a close eye on Tipp. It’s good to see football come up against hurling here. I think there are some real good footballers, especially in the Commercials club, and there are lads in that club who would get on any team in Tyrone. It’s just a matter of making football a priority because in Tyrone, we wouldn’t have any competition between hurling and football.”

While he donned the Tyrone shirt at underage level, McCullagh says his club career at home took precedence.

“A lot of things came first for me — work, for a start. And with the club, I felt a lot more desire to win something than I ever did with my county. I was putting all my effort into the club but I knew realistically that Mickey (Harte) wasn’t going to come and watch junior league games.

“I knew from playing at university, with Queen’s and with lads all starting for their counties, that I never had a problem competing or anything but how can you get spotted?

“I was U21 four years ago but I found it hard after I came out of U21. That’s probably the main time to push on. The club wasn’t going too well at the time, trying to make the push out of junior.

“The competition is so high in Tyrone that if you don’t push on after U21, there’s a fair chance that you’ll be forgotten about, unless the club is making it in senior.”

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