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Tough decisions ahead for Tyrone boss Mickey Harte

Tyrone currently boast the biggest county squad in Ulster — and that means manager Mickey Harte could have some very difficult decisions to make in the near future.

Some 42 players, including several who are currently still on the injured list, will be jostling for starting places before the National Football League is much older and Harte will then begin a pre-Championship pruning exercise that will mean disappointment for some of his hopefuls.

Interestingly, Harte has named a total of 28 players for tomorrow’s vital tie against Monaghan which leaves the door open for two more to make the cut before throw-in time. Sean Cavanagh and Brian Dooher perhaps?

While the fans will await developments with interest, no one will pay closer attention to the Tyrone bench tomorrow than Monaghan manager Seamus McEnaney in the knowledge that a cameo appearance by either player or both could have repercussions for his team’s prospects of finally getting off the mark in the competition.

And while the re-entry of some of Tyrone’s more senior gladiators to the arena is adding spice to the team’s campaign, for Colm Cavanagh and Raymond Mulgrew tomorrow represents a golden opportunity to persuade Harte that they are now ready for longer-term recognition in his side.

Cavanagh, younger brother of Sean, pilfered Tyrone’s goal in their defeat to Derry last month but has had more than his share of injury woes recently.

Now though he is hoping to stake a strong claim for a regular place in an attack which will also include Martin Penrose who is returning from suspension.

Mulgrew, named as man of the match when Cookstown defeated Kerry and Munster champions Spa in last month’s All Ireland Intermediate Club final, is plunged straight into action.

“It was marvellous to share in Cookstown’s All Ireland Club triumph last month but now I’m ready to fight for my Tyrone spot,” says the 23-year-old.

He will have his Cookstown colleague Owen Mulligan alongside him tomorrow as Tyrone bid to ease their relegation concerns against a Monaghan side that is an amalgam of old and new faces.

Former Tyrone, Fermanagh and Cavan trainer Martin McElkennon has the Farney side in tip-top shape while ex-Armagh No 2 Paul Grimley will have a big input into the tactics that will be employed against the Red Hands in what should prove a fascinating contest.

TYRONE: J Curran; D Carlin, J McMahon, S O’Neill; D Harte, C Gormley, R McMenamin; A Cassidy, K Hughes; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, R Mulgrew; T McGuigan, M Penrose, O Mulligan.

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