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Tyrone hoping to scoop a treble

By John Campbell

Tyrone eyes are focused on a sporting triple this weekend that could see the county’s GAA stock soar even further.

While Mickey Harte will oversee the Red Hands’ bid to get off the mark in the National League against Mayo on Sunday following their setback against Derry, Cookstown will confront Kerry and Munster champions Spa in the All Ireland Intermediate Club football final at Croke Park on the same day (3.45pm).

And before all that, on Saturday night Naomh Colum Cille will represent the county at Headquarters in the All Ireland Junior Club Hurling Final against Limerick and Munster champions Blackrock (6.00pm).

Tyrone chairman Ciaran McLaughlin has urged all followers in Ulster to get behind the two club sides as they attempt to bring home coveted titles.

“It’s a massive weekend for Tyrone,” says McLaughlin.

“It’s not every day that two club sides from any county get to play in Croke Park and obviously we would love to see a double success landed there.

“We are equally anxious that Mickey’s team should beat Mayo on Sunday to get their National League title effort up and running.”

While Harte ponders amendments to his side following the slip-up against Derry last Saturday — the fact that the Oak Leafers scored 1-18 is a source of concern to the manager — Cookstown team boss Chris Lawn has his side fired up for their Croke Park challenge.

“When you are going in against a team from Kerry, you just know that things are being taken to a higher level. I have great faith in my players though and I have no

doubt that they will respond to the occasion,” insists Lawn.

Red Hands All Ireland winners Owen Mulligan and Raymond Mulgrew will be in the vanguard of Cookstown’s glory quest while defenders Paul McGurk and Ryan Pickering, who skippered St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon to MacRory and Hogan Cup success three years ago, are also key members of the side.

Cookstown have gained in stature as they progressed through the Ulster and All Ireland Championships and Lawn is optimistic that they can now claim the ultimate honour. County chairman McLaughlin, meanwhile, points to the fact that, although it is very much regarded as a strong football county, Tyrone has been making an impact on the hurling front in recent times.

“Don’t forget that last year Tyrone won the Lory Meagher Cup in fine style and now we have Naomh Coum Cille in the All Ireland Junior Club final.

“It would maybe have been unthinkable a few years ago that a club from Tyrone would get this far. But there are a small band of very dedicated people putting an awful lot of work into hurling in this county and it’s encouraging to see their efforts being rewarded,” states McLaughlin.

Among the most fervent supporters of Cookstown and Naomh Colum Cille will be Mickey Harte himself.

“It’s wonderful to see two clubs in different codes carrying the flag for the county in Croke Park,” states Harte.

“This is in essence what the GAA is all about.”

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