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Barton hatches plan to stifle Red Hands

By Declan Bogue

New Derry manager Damian Barton will face Tyrone for the second time in his short spell in charge tomorrow, and he admits that this game assumes critical importance - despite taking place in the dreary half-light of January.

The two cross-Sperrins rivals will also meet in Omagh during the National League on March 5, before their Ulster Championship clash in Celtic Park just over two months later.

Asked if he will adapt his thinking in order to conceal his intentions for the Championship, Barton was keen to state that Derry's first priority is to cope with Tyrone's strengths.

"I think Sunday is a big day," the Newbridge man commented.

"Tyrone are one of the top teams in the country. If Kerry or Dublin were coming, it would be a special game, so I think we have to treat them the same.

"We will not be making significant changes in terms of our gameplan. We still want to go out and win the game, but it's all about us; we can do what we want.

"Tyrone are full of athletes and you can see that. That's what they have been developing. That's what we have to cope with, their running game."

Despite that, Barton has actually made eight changes to the team that started against Antrim, although none of the starters are making their debut for the Oak Leafs.

Slaughtneil's creative talent Christopher 'Sammy' Bradley, however, makes his first start having notched a point against the Saffrons after coming on as substitute.

Dermot McBride takes over the captaincy from Chrissy McKaigue this weekend, with Barton aiming to share the duty around the team for a spell.

"They all should be captains really, shouldn't they?" he asked.

"We will have a different captain next week, we will have a different captain in different games.

"They all have to accept the responsibility of managing it out there on the pitch. Considering the personnel we have, a lot of them are very quiet, so therefore it's something we need to develop."

Barton is also hamstrung by the absence of some proven performers in his squad who are on college duty.

Cailean O'Boyle and Gareth McKinless are with UUJ, Brendan Rogers is playing for Queen's and Brian Óg McGilligan and Niall Toner have committed to St Mary's.

As a former manager of UUJ, Barton admits to having certain sympathies.

"You can see it from different perspectives. I know that one county team in particular would have said it was their choice to send them (players to universities)," he said.

"I know Antrim were handicapped last Sunday and have perhaps 10 involved in different universities, so it's difficult for them as well."

Meanwhile, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte hands a debut to schoolboy David Mulgrew. The Ardboe teenager was on the county minor team last year and is attending Holy Trinity school in Cookstown.

Justin McMahon returns to bolster the side at centre-back as Harte makes eight changes from the starting line-up against Queen's. Ronan O'Neill, man of the match against the students with 1-6, drops to the bench.

Derry: T Mallon; R Ferris, D McBride (C), O Duffy; D Heavron, C McKaigue, M Craig; E Bradley, M Lynch; C McFaul, C Bradley, B Heron; E McGuckin, R Bell, C Murphy.

Tyrone: M O'Neill; A McCrory, P Hampsey, J Munroe; C Clarke, Justin McMahon, N Sludden; P McNulty, R Donnelly; D Mulgrew, P Harte, K McGeary; D McCurry, C McAliskey, P Quinn.

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