For those people who have only been following the fortunes of Tyrone football over recent years you might be forgiven for thinking that the Mc Guigans of Ardboe are a fairly recent phenomenon. Brian, Tommy and Frank have all played at the highest level for the county and have amassed a fine collection of All Ireland medals and young Shea has togged out for the county minors on several occasions too.
For those Tyrone followers of a slightly older vintage like myself they will recall that the Mc Guigan Dynasty in football terms goes back at least another generation.
I am not biased of course when I say that Frank senior was the best all round Gaelic Footballer I ever saw bar none but he also had a couple of brothers who were more than just a bit special too. Gerard and Paddy were class acts and both were recognised as being among the best club footballers of their generation.
With such footballing pedigree it should come as no surprise that young Shea Mc Guigan is beginning to look a bit special as well. He was a fairly good minor but it would be fair to say he did not stir the emotions quite like his club colleague Kyle Coney or guys like Peter Harte or Ronan O’Neill. In fact he was not always a man who even made the first fifteen on the county minor team as his slight frame and lack of height sometimes counted against him. There was no denying however that he had the talent and skill but he needed to fill out and grow a bit if he was to achieve the heights of performance that he was capable of.
Shea sat on the bench as an unused sub during the first two under-21 games against Down but with the injury to Diarmuid Mc Nulty he was given his first competitive start of the season in the second replay. I don’t think too many people were expecting an awful lot from him but the performance he produced in that game certainly caused a buzz of excitement among the crowd.
He must have covered every blade of grass on The Athletic Grounds as he foraged back in support of his defence, made himself available to link the play and fetched some fantastic catches in midfield. He was so good it was like watching a combination of the two great masters, Brian and Frank senior, at times. His running, passing, tackling and workrate were quite something to see. He wanted to be on the ball all the time and Down struggled to contain him. Even early in the game when Tyrone were under pressure at the back the Ardboe youngster was there helping out in defence attempting to lift the siege as Down dominated the early stages of the game. His commitment to the cause and willingness to work hard set the tone for an outstanding personal display during the match.
A Down man I spoke to wondered how he had not featured in the previous two games and was glowing in praise of Mc Guigan junior’s display. He did confess he had been a bit apprehensive when he saw Shea Mc Guigan’s name on the team sheet and discovered to his and his team’s cost that The Mc Guigan Footballing Dynasty is not just alive and well, but is thriving and in Shea’s case learning fast too.