Hampsey admits McCann injury is a 'big blow' for Tyrone
By John Harrington
Tyrone defender Padraig Hampsey admits the loss of team-mate Tiernan McCann for the rest of the League campaign is ‘a big blow’.
McCann managed to finish last Sunday’s victory over Kildare despite hurting the knee in a collision late in the game.
But a subsequent x-ray revealed he’d fractured the knee-cap and so he’s set for another extended period out of the game having successfully rehabbed the broken hand he suffered in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.
“Tiernan is a massive player for us and has been this last three or four years for Tyrone,” Hampsey told GAA.ie. “He's someone I would have looked up to over the last two years.
“He's progressed himself every year. He puts in the hard work and never misses training even though he travels from Dublin on Tuesday and Thursday. He's a credit, and he'll be a big loss for us.
“It's a blow, it's looking like he'll be gone for 12 weeks or more, but I know with the work ethic he has that he'll hoping to be back for the start of the Championship.”
Hampsey is confident that Tyrone have the strength in depth to cope without McCann for the foreseeable future and believes his bad luck will be an opportunity for someone else to shine.
“We've got good depth in the squad,” said Hampsey. “Some younger lads have come through this year like Michael McKernan who's a clubmate of my own.
"He's featured a lot in the League himself and was playing week in, week out with Jordanstown in the Sigerson as well.
“The likes of Rory Brennan has been on the panel for a few years as well and is a brilliant player, as are others like Frank Burns and the two McGearys (Kieran and Hugh Pat).
“They're all good lads, we have very good strength in depth, and there'll be lads looking to go and take a place there.
“That keeps everyone on their toes. It's definitely good that the competition in there is so high because it keeps pushing us on.”
Hampsey’s own recent rise to prominence should be a source of encouragement to the fringe players on the Tyrone panel.
The Coalisland man didn’t feature at all in the 2016 League and only made a couple of cameo performances in the Championship that year.
But, when given an extended run in the team during last year’s McKenna Cup and League, he went from strength to strength, and was one of Tyrone’s most impressive players during their Championship run to the All-Ireland semi-final.
Hampsey is a personal trainer by trade, and has put his professional knowledge to good use to maximise his own potential.
“It's something I enjoy,” he said. “The job helps the football side of things too, just knowing your own body.
“From the nutrition side of it and sleep is a big factor too. I find that if I'm eating well and training hard hard but not sleeping well, then my performance just drops, big-time.
“But if you're doing everything right in terms of nutrition, sleeping, and recovery as well as your training it makes a massive difference.”
Personal trainers are very process and goal driven, and Hampsey brings the same approach to gaelic football.
Next up is Donegal in the McKenna Cup Final on Saturday, so that match rather than any long-term goal is Hampsey’s solitary focus for now.
“This year is a new year and we're just striving hard for every game,” he said. “We're taking it match by match and not looking ahead to the Championship at all.
“We take every competition seriously. If you're playing week in, week out, and you're winning, it's not going to do you any harm. It gets that winning mentality in.
“We're playing Donegal on Saturday and it will be a tough test. I watched them play against Dublin in the League and they were flying.
“It'll definitely be a tough battle and I'm sure it'll be a good one to watch for the spectators.”