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Coalisland’s Stephen “Mackers” McNally Under The Spotlight

Thursday 02.04.2020
Team Talk Mag
Club Life


Coalisland attacking half back Stephen McNally is the under the spotlight today with the Q and A. Find out what the 2018 O’Neill Cup winning Captain and TTM/ O’Neills Club player of the year has to say.

1. Earliest GAA memory.

Going to an U8 training session wearing a pair of steel toe ordinary boots that didn’t fit me. For the following training session I got my first pair of football boots.

2. Was your family a traditional GAA family?

No, not really. My brother would have played up to U16 level but my father never played although the family would now go to all the big championship games that Coalisland are playing in.

3. School participation and/or success.

I played on some very good teams at St.Josephs without any success. I started out as a goalkeeper but Mickey O’Neill was at the same school and I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to get a game in goals with him around! St.Ciarans Ballygawley were always the side to beat back then and while we ran them close on a few occasions we just couldn’t get one over on them.

4. Club/ County role models that you looked up to as a youth

Richard Thornton was the one club player that I always looked up to when I was young. He was a brilliant player that set a really high standard. At County level it would have to be Peter Canavan. He was unstoppable on his day and I was fortunate to have played against him in a senior championship game although we came out on the losing side.

5. Other sports that you played or had an interest in.

I would have played soccer for a few years in the local leagues and I enjoyed it, it helped keep you in shape. When it came down to Soccer on a Saturday and GAA on a Sunday there was only going to be the one winner so I stopped it.

6. Most difficult opponent you have faced in club football and why?

It would have to be PJ Lavery from the Rahillys. He has a low centre of gravity but while small in stature he is very strong on the ball and hard to dispossess. Me and him would be friends and we have had some great battles. We are always matched up probably because of speed and no matter what the result is we always shake hands after it.

7. Best player you have ever seen play Gaelic football

It would have to  be Peter Canavan. He was on a different level, a different class from anyone else that I have ever seen. He had the talent, no doubt about that, but always stood up to the plate when it was needed and while he hadn’t the biggest stature on the field he could certainly hold his own and was never bullied.

8. Are you a fan of the recent rule changes?

No, not at all. I think the referees have a hard enough job without asking them to keep an eye on further things. I don’t see the benefit of the forward mark, it takes away from a defender being able to stand a forward up if he is only after taking a catch and it takes away the battle of trying to stop him from going past you.

9. One suggestion that you think might improve the game.

I think that Gaelic football is a brilliant game and the powers that be should stop tinkering with it. Teams can set up defensively or go 15 on 15 so there are different types of games that you can be involved in but there is no point in changing the rules just for the sake of it.

10. Are you a fan of academies/development squads? Why

Yes I am a fan of them although they need to be from U15 up. I remember being part of U16 and U17 Development squads and it gave me a great opportunity to be involved with the best players in the County at that age group at that time. I believe that can only improve you as a player. Also its great to be player under different managers who may have different ideas and you can always pick something up that you can use to improve you r game.  Liam Donnelly was involved in my time and he was one of the best managers that I have ever played under.

11. Your own involvement around the club.

I’m part of our club’s U16 management this year alongside Shane Hughes and Paudie Hampsey. I was fortunate to play under some great managers with Coalisland and its great t be able to put something back into the club the way that men did for us when we were coming through the ranks. I think that its important for players to get involved as it perhaps gives the youth someone to look up to and try to inspire to emulate.

12. How important is the GAA in your community?

The GAA is massive in Coalisland and its in times such as now that you really miss playing and no doubt our supporters miss it badly as well. There is a real social aspect to it and a real bond between the players, management and supporters and its great to be able to go down the Town after a game and meet up with people to talk about it.

13. Favourite county jersey (not Tyrone)

Mayo. I don’t know why but I have always liked their jersey and whenever they take a new one out I always have to go and get one!

14. Are you a fan of penalties to decide the outcome of championship games?
No I think its an awful way to end a game. I would always put my hand up to take one but I think that a game should be played to a conclusion even if it means playing additional extra time. Its a team game and a result shouldn’t be decided by one player who either scores or misses a penalty.

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