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Mulligan ready to help boost Cookstown bid

By John Campbell

Owen Mulligan may not have played a part in Tyrone's championship journey this year but this does not necessarily mean that he has surrendered the qualities which helped make him one of the truly outstanding forwards in the modern game.

Even before the Red Hands kicked a ball in their summer mission which was ultimately terminated by a rampant Mayo, Mulligan had already pocketed an All-Ireland Intermediate club championship medal.

Indeed, his performances in the colours of the Cookstown Fr Rocks side prior to the clocks having gone forward an hour suggested that he might still have something to offer Mickey Harte.

But youth was to be given its head in the county line-up so publican Mulligan continued to busy himself on the club front.

And tonight he is expected to be given a key role once again when Cookstown enter the more demanding Tyrone senior championship arena against Carrickmore at Healy Park (8.30pm).

There he will confront a battery of familiar faces – Martin Penrose, Mark Donnelly and Conor Gormley are colleagues of long standing from the most successful Tyrone side of all time.

But on this occasion Mulligan, who wears his heart on his sleeve, is consumed by parochial desire.

"It was terrific to win the All Ireland club series at intermediate level but we would now like to prove ourselves in the senior championship in Tyrone," he points out.

"This is a good testing ground for us and we could hardly expect tougher opposition than that which Carrickmore will offer."

Raymond Mulgrew, who returned from Australia several months ago, Martin Murray and John Gilmore are other key figures in a Cookstown side that relish the prospect of claiming a scalp.

Tomorrow Sean Cavanagh and his brother Colm will form the twin pillars of a Moy side that will confront a Killyclogher outfit likely to derive inspiration from Dermot Carlin. Paul Rouse and Ryan Mellon will further buttress the Moy challenge in what should be a lively contest.

Then on Sunday an Omagh side which has endured frustration in the championship in recent years will hope to gain an initial boost when they confront Clonoe although lingering doubts over the fitness of Joe McMahon are not calculated to boost morale.

However, Justin McMahon, Ronan O'Neill, Conor Clarke and Conor Grugan are, in the words of Tyrone PRO Eunan Lindsay, "good to go."

Clonoe, still under the baton of former Derry All-Ireland winner Damian Cassidy, will look to Shane O'Hagan for first-phase possession and to Conor McAliskey for scores.

And when Dromore and Errigal Ciaran lock horns on Sunday evening it will be a clash of titans.

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