The biggest transfer saga to hit the GAA in recent seasons has come to a close after Cathal McShane decided a life down under playing professional AFL wasn’t for him.
The 2019 All-Star full-forward will now throw his lot back in with Tyrone as Mickey Harte’s men aim to collect a first Allianz League Division 1 crown since 2003.
The Owen Roes man was initially linked with the Brisbane Lions before being offered a trial with the Adelaide Crows. Following a week-long spell in Australia, the club last night announced that McShane had opted to pledge his allegiance to Gaelic games and Tyrone.
Gaelic footballer Cathal McShane has decided to remain in Ireland and not pursue an AFL career
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) February 5, 2020
McShane confirmed on Thursday that a career offer at home proved too good an opportunity to turn down.
“This career opportunity given to me by Keystone [Lintels] was a big deciding factor in me staying,” McShane told BBC Sport NI.
The 24-year-old admitted, however, that he had been “very close” to signing the AFL deal.
“Obviously, there’s deadlines in terms of decisions.
“It did come down to the wire in terms of the last day I had to make the decision. It was Tuesday [though] I had my mind made in advance on Monday.”
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) February 6, 2020
Harte, who has long been opposed to Gaelic players opting for a professional career in the AFL, confirmed that he did fear the county would lose McShane to the oval ball game.
“I’d been talking to him regularly since he came home. It did look like he could be on his way.
“It was a good enough deal that he had out there. He was happy with it. We couldn’t be stopping him. We just wished he wouldn’t go. We believed we could give him something just as good at home here.”
The Tyrone manager feels McShane will have no problem slotting back in with the squad and replicating the form that saw him win a maiden All-Star award in 2019.
“He’s a serious player with serious ability and I think he will be able to show that [last year] wasn’t a flash in the pan.”
On his week-long trial down under, McShane felt he performed well but reiterated that the career opportunity afforded to him was a big factor in his decision to stay.
“I feel like I did really well when I was out there. The game was a new experience for me.
“But this career opportunity given to me was a big deciding factor in me staying.”