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Donegal v Tyrone: No ordinary Joe steps in for missing brother

By John Campbell

Joe McMahon does not necessarily see himself as his brother’s keeper.

But tomorrow he will step into the injured Justin’s shoes when he takes over the full-back role for Tyrone against Donegal in the Ulster semi-final at Clones.

And he is delighted to be augmenting a Red Hands rearguard already rich in experience.

It was expected that the broken jaw which Joe sustained while playing for Omagh St Enda’s against Moortown in April would keep him out for several months but he made a speedy recovery and has already some club games under his belt.

He was in the squad for the game against Monaghan earlier this month but had not quite achieved full match fitness at that stage.

Now he is preparing to resume his county career in Tyrone’s biggest match of the year to date by filling the berth in which Justin, who is currently injured, has excelled in recent years to such an extent that he won an Allstar award in 2008.

The versatile Joe has played at wing-back, wing-forward and served as a third midfielder for Tyrone over recent years, and manager Mickey Harte has had no hesitation in plunging him in at full-back on this occasion.

For Joe, who was married in January, it’s a challenge which he is relishing.

“I am sorry that Justin is missing out but hopefully if we can win tomorrow he will be back in Tyrone’s colours soon. It’s great for me to be in there alongside the other old hands in defence for this game against Donegal,” smiles Joe.

When both Joe and Justin were unavailable for the quarter-final against Monaghan, Cathal McCarron was handed the full-back role but a 13th minute booking saw him subsequently substituted by Dermot Carlin who will again be on the bench tomorrow along with other quality players such as Owen Mulligan, Colm Cavanagh, Kyle Coney, Sean O’Neill and Tommy McGuigan. The McMahon brothers are sons of Paddy McMahon who played in the successful Tyrone team of the 70’s and whose name is synonymous with the St Enda’s club.

Meanwhile, Kevin Hughes (30), another of Tyrone’s senior citizens, starts as Sean Cavanagh’s midfield partner tomorrow and is anxious to recapture the form he showed in the championship last year.

Hughes got only a few minutes game time against Monaghan having been introduced in the 65th minute but now his sights are set on taking the Red Hands into another provincial decider.

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