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Joe McMahon casts doubt over his Red Hands future

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone's two-time All-Ireland winner Joe McMahon has left a question mark hanging over his future with the Red Hands.

After turning 31 last month, McMahon has a county final for Omagh St Enda's to look forward to on Sunday against Carrickmore. It will bridge a gap back to 2005 when Omagh were last in a final, against the same opposition and it represents a chance for retribution at the end of one of the most hurried county Championships in history.

However, McMahon's changing circumstances mean that he is unsure how he can report back for Tyrone duty in time for the Dr McKenna Cup.

He has left his job as an Ulster Council coach and travels daily from Omagh to Coleraine in gaining his teaching qualification.

"I don't know just yet," says the affable McMahon when asked if he is looking forward to putting an injury-ridden 2014 behind him in the county colours.

"I am going to mull over the books. There is a serious strain at the minute travelling up and down. I am away at seven in the morning and not home until half six, quarter-to-seven in the evening from Coleraine."

It does not sound like the sort of commitment a county player can give, with 7.00am gym sessions four times a week not only desired, but indeed seen as an absolute essential by teams competing for provincial and national titles.

"Definitely not," McMahon continues, "and especially not with a family. I don't know what the future holds. If I am on placement it might lift the strain a bit but my ultimate at the minute is to get my education sorted out and get my career sorted."

McMahon is one of that growing rarity of family men who are still playing county football. His daughter Aoibhe will be three in December and the latest addition to the family is Anna, who is now seven months old.

He believes that his wife, Geraldine, needs some support at home.

"In fairness, Geraldine is the one who is always left at home to do the work. It's easy for me to say yes or no, but ultimately it falls back on Geraldine."

McMahon also revealed that the departure of Tony Donnelly and Fergal McCann from the Tyrone backroom team came as a surprise and he learned of it through the media.

He explains: "With Mickey (Harte) staying on, I assumed Tony and Fergal would stay. I was talking with Fergal at the beginning of that week and there was no inclination that he was going to leave so I was quite surprised when I heard it in the media.

"What Fergal and Tony have done for Tyrone has been massive and definitely they went a long way into developing who I am as a player and as a person. They supported me on and off the pitch and gave me great inspiration."

There had been suggestions that Tyrone needed to modernise their training, but McMahon refutes that, stating: "Fergal's training has been top-class, and supported with Tony's words.

"It was a shock and what the backroom team will be for next year I am not sure. I'm sure Tony and Fergal will be giving their full support."

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