Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has recalled brothers Justin and Joe McMahon, along with Paddy McNeice, for Sunday’s National Football League final against Dublin at Croke Park.
McMahon, so instrumental in what Dublin manager Jim Gavin describes as Tyrone’s “defensive wall,” missed the semi-final defeat of Kildare on April 14th with a groin strain.
His return is offset by the unavailability of another key figure in the Tyrone system, Peter Harte.
The 22-year-old, who has seamlessly filled the void left after the retirement of Brian Dooher, sustained a hamstring tear just 23 minutes into the 2-15 to 2-11 defeat of Kildare.
Harte was replaced by Aidan Cassidy, with four-time All Star Seán Cavanagh shifting from midfield to the half forwards.
Joe McMahon’s versatility will see him start in the half-forward line in place of Harte. Justin McMahon is in for Ronan McNamee, while McNeice starts at corner forward instead of Darren McCurry.
This is Mickey Harte’s 11th season as Tyrone senior manager, but only their second appearance in a Division One league final, the last time being in 2003, when they captured both the league and All-Ireland titles.
Dublin, who last won the league in 1993, will be able to call upon all six defenders from their 2011 All-Ireland winning side when manager Jim Gavin releases his line-up tonight.
Cuala corner back Mick Fitzsimons returned to the field against Donegal earlier this month, but last week’s challenge match against Galway really heated up competition for places.
Kilmacud Crokes pair Rory O’Carroll and Kevin Nolan have both overcome troublesome injuries to return to the blue jersey, while James McCarthy, back from Ballymun Kickhams’ run to the All-Ireland club final in March, is seeking to regain a wing back slot.
Jack McCaffrey appears to have nailed down the righ-half back role, but the return to fitness of the above trio makes for a welcome selection headache for the Dublin selectors.
“Absolutely, they’re in the frame,” said Gavin yesterday of his returning All Ireland medallists. “It was a great opportunity for them to play a very good football team in Galway. It was a great game up in Round Towers, Clondalkin.
“They’re very much in the frame for the weekend. We had a few sessions during the week and another one before the game. We’ll see how they go. They’re progressing very well and putting pressure on players for places. That’s what we want. We want competitiveness within the squad and we’re getting there.”
Ciarán Kilkenny is not expected to return for a few weeks yet after a minor knee operation, while Alan Brogan and Eoghan O’Gara are the only long-term concerns for Gavin.
TYRONE (v Dublin): N Morgan; PJ Quinn, C Clarke, C McCarron; C Gormley, D Carlin, Justin McMahon; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, Joe McMahon; M Penrose, S O’Neill, P McNeice.