Tiernan McCann injury is such a blow to Tyrone
Here's Tyrone looking at expanding their game plan.
Everyone can see it, even Sean Cavanagh is talking about how the emphasis now is to develop their attack, and the introduction of Lee Brennan is giving them an out and out scorer and an extra body in the full forward line.
The Red Hands have changed their shape from last summer where they largely had 14 behind the ball and 10 free to bomb up the field in attack. Against Dublin and on Sunday against Kildare, it was clear that they're holding men in more orthodox positions and placing less reliance on running. Now they have the option to run or kick.
In Newbridge, their front eight generally took on a shape like this.
Peter Harte was higher up playing those diagonal balls and reverse passes that Stephen O'Neill is obviously there to encourage the team to do. Sludden was ripping it up in a more advanced role and Cathal McShane was barging through to offer a very real physical presence in attack.
But one of Tyrone's best attackers is still Tiernan McCann who raids from wing back with tireless efficiency and who has made a scarily easy habit of floating the ball over off the outside of his boot.
McCann's commitment to making it back to training with his county tells you anything you need to know about how seriously he takes his football and, in the last few season, he has been nothing short of mesmerising at times and was probably the most hard-done-by when it came to the All-Star awards in 2017.
News this week though, broken by the Irish News, is that Tiernan McCann will face up six to eight weeks on the sideline after suffering a cracked knee.
That means he'll miss the rest of the league campaign for Tyrone who, with just one win to their name so far, need all the help they can get at the minute to stay in Division One.
Tyrone have a McKenna Cup final this weekend and their remaining league fixtures are as follows:
- Monaghan (a)
- Donegal (h)
- Mayo (a)
- Kerry (h)
They play Monaghan in the quarter-final of the Ulster championship on May 20 and Tiernan McCann will be available for then but, as it stands, his loss is a big blow - not just to Tyrone, but for anyone with a love of an attacking wing back with a ping from downtown in his arsenal.