Tyrone in turmoil as Mulligan quits squad
Mickey Harte will have to draw on all his persuasive powers once more to lure Owen Mulligan back to the Tyrone squad after his apparent withdrawal earlier this week.
Mulligan missed training on Tuesday and was absent again last night as Tyrone stepped up their preparations for their third-round qualifier match against either Wicklow or Armagh.
He is believed to be disillusioned at his failure to cement a permanent place on the Tyrone team after only appearing as a late substitute at the weekend against Longford.
Harte has already had to work hard to coax Philip Jordan back earlier in the season after he returned for the league match against Kildare, but questioned his hunger in the days and weeks after.
The Tyrone manager always keeps the door open in these matters, especially with the more established players, and managed to persuade Jordan back in April. But Mulligan may be more difficult to get around.
It was felt that Mulligan's form coming into the championship after playing six of the seven league games was good, but he was only used as a sub against Monaghan and was taken off in the second half against Donegal after starting.
On his day, Mulligan is one of the most exciting and flamboyant forwards in the game, but looks to have slipped too far down the pecking order. That appears to have triggered his decision to quit the squad.
Elsewhere, Wicklow's influential midfielder James Stafford has been ruled out of the Aughrim replay against Armagh because of an ankle injury.
Stafford was a towering presence in Armagh last weekend as Wicklow pulled off one of the shocks of the championship. However, he turned awkwardly on an ankle in training on Wednesday night and spent yesterday undergoing tests in hospital.
Meanwhile, fears that Kildare's John Doyle may miss the third-round qualifier game against Meath in Navan have been allayed after he participated in training last night.