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Faith put in McNulty and McCarron

By John Campbell

Published 16/05/2015

Rookie: Padraig McNulty starts his first Championship game
Rookie: Padraig McNulty starts his first Championship game

Mickey Harte's renowned man-management skills will see two players who, for different reasons, thought that they might not get the chance to wear the Tyrone jersey this year instead strive to fulfil key roles against Donegal tomorrow.

Rookie midfielder Padraig McNulty was unknown outside the confines of the Dungannon Clarkes club at the start of this year yet tomorrow he will come up against a giant of the game in every sense in Neil Gallagher.

And Cathal McCarron, thought to have brought the curtain down on his inter-county career following highly-publicised personal difficulties, will make a dramatic return to the Ulster Championship stage on the back of a great league campaign.

For McNulty, tomorrow will mark a significant milestone in his career to date and the strapping ball-winner's reaction to his selection amounted to just three words: "It's just unbelievable!"

Even though Joe McMahon and Conor Clarke are fit again, Harte retains faith with a youngster who initially illuminated the Dr McKenna Cup before going on to become the essence of consistency in the Allianz League.

His team may have been relegated but McNulty's appetite for hard work allied to his pronounced aerial ability and penchant for breaking tackles have served Tyrone well and should he replicate these qualities tomorrow, he can expect a bouquet from his manager.

McCarron returns to the Ulster Championship stage having initially been given a massive vote of confidence by Harte when it was thought that he made his exit under a dark cloud.

The corner-back made his first appearance for the Red Hands since the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo in a tempestuous McKenna Cup victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds in January.

McCarron, who played for London last year, has made huge progress since coming back into the Tyrone squad earlier this year when Harte opened the door to a new chapter in his sporting life.

He has retained his place at left-full-back and tomorrow could find himself facing into a head-to-head with Donegal shooting star Patrick McBrearty yet on current form this is a duel that is unlikely to face McCarron.

And the Dromore clubman certainly goes into the game with a ringing endorsement from his manager. "He is a very good defender and for not having played football for so long at this high level, he adapted very quickly when he came back in. He is a serious asset to us," said Harte.

Indeed, Harte's own perseverance and willingness to give players their chance have brought their own rewards in terms of personal satisfaction to date.

Should Tyrone win tomorrow, then this will surely provide further endorsement of his subtle man-management skills.

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