Tyrone legend Brian McGuigan has welcomed Cathal McCarron’s return to county football — but admits this represents a last chance for the former All-Star nominee to salvage his career.
McCarron put recent off-field difficulties behind him to produce a standout performance against Armagh in Sunday’s McKenna Cup victory at the Athletic Grounds.
And McGuigan, who won three All-Ireland SFC medals with the Red Hands, reflected: “Tyrone missed him massively last year and when you look at the year before, he was probably our best defender and that was reflected in the fact he got an All Star nomination. Looking at footballing ability, Cathal is up there with the best in the country in man-marking ability. For what he has been through and given the amount of football he missed, he had a fantastic game.
“He’s a good lad and he’s had his off-field problems and Cathal is probably the only person in Ireland that could come back from what he’s been through.
“That’s the type of person that he is.
“I hope it goes well for him. Mickey (Harte) showed enormous faith to bring him back and I hope there are no distractions for Cathal on the field from opposition or supporters.
“I wouldn’t want to see it going down that road.”
Ardboe stalwart McGuigan also believes that Tyrone could benefit similar to Kerry in 2014 with Kieran Donaghy by returning Sean Cavanagh to full-forward. Cavanagh starred in that position during the 2008 All-Ireland win and former teammate McGuigan said: “I wouldn’t have given Kerry a hope last year and especially after losing (Colm) Cooper.
“They got so far in the championship and Donaghy was brought on as the target man. If Tyrone do something similar, they could be a force. I’d like to see Sean there because of the personnel available to Tyrone. He did it in 2008 and did a fantastic job.”
McGuigan also played down the melee that saw Armagh’s Ciaran McKeever and Tyrone’s Colm Cavanagh red carded on Sunday. Finian Moriarty and Aaron Findon were also dismissed later in the game for second bookable offences as Armagh finished with 12 players. McGuigan said: “You go back as far as the championship and the incident with Kerry and Mayo. The more it’s talked about that it happens more in Ulster, the more it’s put out there... certain media people down south would like to portray the Ulster game in that light. Bar one wee shemozzle there was, there wasn’t much more after it.”
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