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Tyrone hope Kevin Ryan returns as they gear up for crunch clash

By John Campbell

The starkly contrasting fortunes between Tyrone's footballers and hurlers have suddenly been brought into sharp focus.

While Mickey Harte's side have already been draped with the mantle of favourites for their Ulster senior football championship quarter-final against Derry on Sunday at Celtic Park, the county's hurlers find themselves gearing up for yet another promotion/relegation dog-fight on Saturday - and hoping that manager Kevin Ryan will be available for this assignment after he missed their defeat to Longford.

Harte, further boosted by the fact that Lee Brennan, Connor McAliskey, Ronan O'Neill and Mark Bradley are among the top five scorers in the current All-County league, is not expected to produce any surprises when he confirms his team but the hurlers must exercise patience in advance of their Nicky Rackard Cup shoot-out against Fermanagh.

The losers will drop into the Lory Meagher Cup next year and having already fended off the challenge of Fermanagh in just managing to retain their league status for next year.

The Nicky Rackard Cup semi-finals are listed for Saturday with Armagh taking on Fingal at the Naomh Barrog club complex in Dublin and Donegal hosting Mayo at Letterkenny.

In the first of the Christy Ring Cup semi-finals on Saturday, Antrim and Down will meet at Loughgiel while Derry will face Wicklow in a relegation play-off.

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