SHANE MCGINTY ONCE dreamt of a life in the Premiership.
The Craig Memorial Cup final at Fortwilliam Park in Tobermore is a world away, but that’s where the St Johnston man finds himself these days.
St Stephen’s Day means lining out for Institute against Limavady United at 11.30am.
The last couple of seasons have been hell for the 21-year-old, but a second-half hat-trick against Kilmore Rec on Saturday in the Intermediate Cup marked his latest injury comeback.
When ‘Stute manager Kevin Deery came calling in the summer, McGinty took up the offer having decided to part ways with Coleraine and he’s joined by fellow St Johnston man Michael Lynch and Buncrana pair Garbhan Friel and Ryan Varma at the Riverside Stadium.
The first half of the season has been mired in frustration, but Saturday’s hat-trick showed that the spark remains alive.
“It’s a stepping stone for me and I’m enjoying here, playing in the centre of midfield – this will prove to me if I have the capability to go where I want to go,” he says.
“I always dreamt of playing at the highest level I can.
“The injuries, yeah, haven’t helped, but I think too my lack of the mental side of things were a bigger problem. I think before if I had the attitude that I have now, I might have gone higher.
“I wanted it so much. I’d have been shouting and crying at myself a lot on the pitch and didn’t deal with frustration very well.
“I can see that now with the work I’ve been doing with Brett (his brother, the commonwealth youth games silver-medal winning boxer) and with sports psychologists.”
McGinty’s progress has been stunted so much by injury set backs. His big trouble came in the form of symphysis pubis, affecting his hip and groin, on and off. He’s hurt his medial ligament in both knees.
“Nightmare wouldn’t cover it,” McGinty says.
“It’s just been one thing after another.”
The early days at Institute were held back because of a problem with his registration and he was sent off against Limavady, picking up two yellow cards after coming on. The first was for entering the field of play too early and the second for simulation.
He was just finding his groove when, during a JBE League Cup game against Crusaders at Seaview, he went into a challenge with Richard Clarke and came off the worst.
“It was just a coming together, but I knew there was something badly wrong,” he says.
“I played on for two games but was forced then to go for the x-ray.”
He fractured a toe and a foot and was out of action until he took part in training last Tuesday night. The board went up in the 54th minute on Saturday and he was back in action, netting a hat-trick in the 9-0 win.
McGinty has been capped up to Under-17 level by the Republic of Ireland and has played for Sligo Rovers, Finn Harps and Galway FC. At Coleraine, he had been rewarded with a new one-year contract by manager Oran Kearney in January but the player decided to tear it up in May.
“Oran was fantastic all round but didn’t see a future at the club mainly due to my lack of goals, which I’ve been working really hard on since,” McGinty says.
“I think the years experience I gained will allow me to grow and improve and get to the level I know I can. I have one crack at my career and I want to make the best of it.”Tags: