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It’s time for Tyrone’s young guns to kick on - Jordan

MICKEY HARTE has paid tribute to both Phillip Jordan and Brian McGuigan after the pair decided to call time on their illustrious inter-county careers.

The three-time All-Ireland winners have followed team captain, Brian Dooher, into retirement after a disappointing 2011 in which the Red Hands coughed up their Ulster title to Donegal and were put firmly to the sword by Dublin at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage.

“I have found both players to be great gentlemen as well as magnificent sportsmen,” praised Harte. “The Tyrone team will miss their energy and class on the field. They have contributed so much to Tyrone’s most successful decade ever.”

The pair, both 31, also won under-21 All-Irelands with Tyrone in 2001 while Jordan won the last of his four All Stars in 2010. McGuigan has battled against a string of potentially career-ending leg breaks and also missed almost a season with a bad eye injury.

“This has been in my head as far back as 2008,” Jordan admitted. “This year was the closest I came to quitting and I was gone for a short while but they managed to talk me round. But it’s time to go.

“It’s time for the younger boys to kick on,” he added. “The last couple of years we have not been good enough and maybe they’ve been looking at us, maybe we were holding them back. We were 23 when we won our first All-Ireland and it’s up to those young boys to push on.”

A number of other Tyrone players, including Ryan McMenamin, Enda McGinley and Kevin Hughes, are also said to be considering their inter-county futures.

Meanwhile, Ollie Baker will be ratified as as Offaly hurling manager tomorrow night at a scheduled meeting of the Faithful county board while there are signs that the protracted search for a new football manager could be nearing a conclusion after negotiations re-opened with Gerry Cooney. Cooney initially came into the reckoning after the departures of Tom Coffey, Stephen Darby and Jack Sheedy, but then withdrew after initial discussions. A selector with Kevin Kilmurray in 2005 and 2006, Cooney was firmly in the frame for the Meath manager’s job which eventually went to Seamus McEnaney.