Saturday 22 July 2017

Tyrone wait on McCarron as Mallon walks away from Derry panel

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte could be facing something of defensive overhaul for this weekend's Ulster SFC clash with Derry as he has to contend with injury doubts over a number of his backs.

Cathal McCarron, who is a regular in the side, is in race against time to be fit due to a hamstring strain picked up a couple of weeks ago while the experienced Justin McMahon is also a doubt due to a quad injury.

Another defensive option, Jonathan Munroe, dropped out of the panel earlier this month, while the versatile Joe McMahon was forced into retirement after a succession of injuries, meaning Harte will have to shuffle his deck ahead of Sunday's clash in Derry's Celtic Park.

Despite those concerns, Tyrone are still firm favourites to overcome their neighbours in Derry for the second year in a row even if their form dipped alarming towards the end of their division one campaign.

Tyrone topped the table after four rounds and looked well in contention to reach a league final. However, they lost the last three games of the campaign to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry to see their league fizzle out.

However, Harte's men had 11 points to spare when the sides met in Derry 12 months ago and there has been little to suggest that they will turn the tables here.

Derry endured a miserable spring that saw them relegated from Division 2. Their form against Tyrone doesn't make for good reading either. The sides met on five occasions last year across pre-season competitions, league and championship, with Tyrone winning each of those encounters.

In fact, Derry haven't managed to beat Tyrone in the championship since their 1-8 to 0-5 win in 2006 and the noises emerging from the Oak Leaf county haven't been good in the build-up to this game.

Manager Damien Barton bemoaned the schedule facing his players as they were pressed into club action as part of the run-up to this match.

And just this week, goalkeeper Thomas Mallon dropped out of the Oak Leaf panel. The Loup clubman looked to be Barton's first-choice 'keeper having played in Derry's last four league ties but he has opted out of the squad recently as did Slaughtneil's Padraig Cassidy.

Barton is without a host of players that made up last year's squad including former captain Gerard O'Kane, who retired, while others such as Sean Leo McGoldrick, Cailean O'Boyle and Niall Holly are also no longer part of the set-up.

Irish Independent

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