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National Football League: Promotion beckons for Tyrone

By John Campbell

Tyrone may have made a tepid start to their Division Two campaign in the Allianz Football League but any fears that they might have lost their appetite for success have been dispelled following four straight wins.



And when they confront bottom-placed Meath tomorrow at Navan, Mickey Harte’s side know that victory could well prove their passport into Division One.

With Donegal only requiring a draw against Laois to copper-fasten their credentials for the top bracket, the Red Hands cannot afford to slip up against Seamus McEnaney’s beleaguered side who have endured a nightmare itinerary to date.

Harte’s faith in his squad has been unwavering even when the cynics were pinpointing alleged chinks in Tyrone’s armour.

With his selection hand now strengthened, morale greatly improved and Philip Jordan destined to be on the bench rather than activating his pension the omens suggest that tomorrow could prove a particularly fruitful day for Harte (pictured).

But he is refusing to take anything for granted.

“Meath desperately need a win and they have home advantage. They know that one result could change their season and they will be anxious to get it,” states Harte.

Mark Donnelly is retained at full-forward following his impressive performance against Kildare last Sunday in an unchanged Tyrone side in which Kevin Hughes and Aidan Cassidy have been making a big impact at midfield, Conor Gormley and Ryan McMenamin are bringing their experience to bear in defence and Sean Cavanagh and Brian McGuigan are proving influential in attack.

Derry too have their sights set on promotion from Division Two but how other results go could have a big bearing on that.

John Brennan’s side are in pole position to beat a weakened Antrim side tomorrow but the margin of victory could prove crucial to their chances of going up as points difference could well prove a telling factor.

Antrim manager Liam Bradley has again placed his faith in fresh faces with Marty Johnston coming in at corner back, Ricky Johnston retaining the full-back berth, Conor Murray again at centre-half-back and Brian Neeson getting a starting place in the full-forward line.

Paddy Cunningham and Kevin O’Boyle are back, while Paddy Bradley is a Derry doubt.

Tyrone (v Meath); P McConnell; M Swift, Joe McMahon, D McCaul; D Harte, C Gormley, R McMenamin; K Hughes, A Cassidy; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, S Cavanagh; M Penrose, M Donnelly, O Mulligan.

Antrim (v Derry): C Kerr; K O’Boyle, R Johnston, M Johnston; T Scullion, C Murray, A Healy; B Herron, A Gallagher; T O’Neill, T McCann, M Sweeney; P Cunningham, K Brady, B Neeson.

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