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18th Jan 2022

Why Oisin Mullin will want to follow in Cathal McShane’s footsteps after rejecting AFL move

Lee Costello

Should I stay or should I go?

In 2019 Tyrone played Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final, and went into the dressing rooms at half-time, four points to the good.

They were in the All-Ireland final the year before and although their performance was disappointing, this particular year, a tactical switch by Mickey Harte turned the Ulster side into a whole new force to be reckoned with.

Much like in 2008, when management moved Sean Cavanagh out of midfield and into the full-forward line, which saw him explode into an unbelievable run of form, Cathal McShane’s newfound position had a similar affect.

From midfield to the main man up front, McShane was producing the performances of his life, ending the season as the top scorer of the whole championship, and although Kerry went on to beat them, things were looking up for the Red Hand county.

That was until Australia came knocking – the media attention and hype around McShane’s explosive evolution found its way to Oz, and soon suiters from the AFL were looking to sign the bolstering bomber.

Tyrone’s number 14 found himself ‘down under’ within a couple of months, going through trials and looking set to make the move abroad and into professional sport.

The deal looked to be as good as done until, seemingly out of nowhere, the news broke that McShane wouldn’t be taking up any of the offers put in front of him, instead committing himself to Tyrone and the GAA.

Initially, many thought he would come to regret this decision as he suffered a very serious ankle injury early in the 2020 campaign that would rule him out of the season’s entirety, as well as the first half of the 2021 season.

However, undeterred and uninterested in wallowing in self-pity, or thoughts of ‘what could have been’, the Owen Roe clubman put his head down in the gym, worked through his rehab, and was available for the 2021 championship.

His substitute appearance in the opening round against Cavan was a crucial moment in his career, as all eyes were on the young forward to see if he was still the same player he was in 2019.

Three cooly converted points soon answered that question, and then throughout the entire campaign, McShane played a vital role, coming off the bench and getting goals and points that would go down in Tyrone history.

Not least his goal in the All-Ireland final against Mayo, where Conor Meyler’s pin-point pass found its way to the towering titan, and ironically, it was Oisin Mullin himself who could do nothing but watch, as the super sub shattered their dreams.

There will be no shred of doubt in McShane’s head that he made the right decision in turning down a move to the AFL, and staying put to fulfil his childhood dream of winning an All-Ireland title with his county.

Oisin Mullin, the young full-back who also played in that final, has only had two seasons with Mayo, but has made it to two All-Ireland finals, and picked up the Young Player of the Year award in both campaigns.

Like McShane, it looked like the deal was done and dusted as the Geelong Cats even announced the signing officially, but a reversal was made, and Mullin clearly couldn’t imagine the dread he would feel if his beloved county won the Sam Maguire without him, or even worse, knowing they could have won one, if only he stayed.

To come so close in two successive years only makes it more difficult to lose, with the golden chalice almost in touching distance.

Mullin would only have to look at McShane’s example to feel inspired and ensured that the glow of that Sam Maguire trophy, will bring much more warmth than any sunny spot in Australia.