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Defensive duo are back to strengthen Red Hands

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte could yet find himself with an embarrassment of defensive riches for the All-Ireland qualifier against Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park on Saturday.

The Red Hands were forced to make two eleventh-hour changes prior to their Ulster semi-final defeat to Donegal when Conor Clarke and Ryan McMenamin replaced Justin McMahon and Cathal McCarron respectively.

But the latter pair are pressing very strongly for starting places against Des Newtown’s side although Clarke and McMenamin, particularly the former, distinguished themselves against Jim McGuinness’ men.

Clarke, who made steady progress over the course of the league, was cool and composed throughout at full-back against a strong Donegal attack in which he was pitted against Colm McFadden.

McMenamin meanwhile was deployed in the role of sweeper but still found time to launch searing counter-attacks although he was replaced by Niall McKenna in the 65th minute.

Harte has also insisted that none of his former stars who retired over the winter were asked to return to the panel.

Some mainstays of the Tyrone for the past decade like Brian Dooher, Philip Jordan, Enda McGinley and Kevin Hughes all hung up their boots after the 2011 campaign.

“That's a bit of a myth that's out there in the public domain,” Harte said.

“Everyone else who made the decision to retire were left with that decision and we respected that because they did actually state that they retired and that they were leaving the team.

“But we never consulted anyone about a comeback. In fact, Brian made it known to us that he would be interested in committing again.”

Meanwhile, Antrim boss Liam Bradley has warned his defence that they cannot afford to err on the side of generosity when his team confronts Galway on Saturday.

“We gave away too many scores the last day against London and we can’t afford to allow that to happen again. We have to mark much tighter,” says Bradley.

Kevin Niblock will start against a Galway side that surprisingly collapsed against Sligo in the Connacht semi-final.

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