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Harte's axe wielded on high-profile Red Hands stars

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has shown he means business in 2015 after cutting some high-profile names from the Red Hands panel.

Along with three others that have gone, the departure of Joe McMahon is the big surprise, although he revealed that he may be back in time for the Championship.

The versatile Omagh St Enda's man started Saturday night's McKenna Cup final against Cavan at centre-back, but was substituted at half-time for Mattie Donnelly.

Currently studying a PGCE in Coleraine to become a teacher, McMahon told The Belfast Telegraph: "My priority at the moment is my PGCE and I am very busy with my workload.

"Mickey (Harte) has been very supportive as he understands the demands of the course. When the workload eases, then I can commit more."

Dermot Carlin, an All-Ireland winner from 2003 and 2008, is no longer attached to the panel, although those close to the set-up would suggest that he may have left of his own volition.

However, it would appear that Plunkett Kane and Kyle Coney have been dropped from the panel.

Manager Harte made it quite clear after Cavan had been held scoreless in the second half that the arrival of Donnelly, Darren McCurry and Colm Cavanagh at half-time had helped to transform the course of the game -and his words send out a clear signal in relation to the league.

Many Tyrone fans will be disappointed that Coney has so far failed to achieve a measure of consistency at county level, but a run of games with his club Ardboe may just restore his confidence.

The league opener will be Tyrone's sixth competitive game in January and in putting the Red Hands' current itinerary into context it is worth noting that the majority of counties will not play six competitive games between April and the end of 2015.

Meanwhile, Ballinderry duo Aaron Devlin and Mickey Conlan have been granted reprieves following disciplinary action that was taken against them.

Devlin has now had a total of 40 weeks shaved off an initial 48-week ban he received for comments about a match official on Twitter after the Ballinderry v Slaughtneil Derry championship final which was won by Slaughtneil via a late, controversial goal.

The ban on Devlin was the first to be imposed on a GAA player because of comments posted on social media.

However, the ban was initially halved by the Derry Hearings Committee before being further reduced by the Ulster Council's Hearings Committee to the minimum eight weeks, thus setting a new precedent for how players will be punished for social media outbursts when Ballinderry's appeal was conducted against a 'misconduct' heading.

Long-serving Ballinderry goalkeeper Conlan was cleared of a charge of assaulting a match official at the county final when video evidence was deemed inconclusive but he will still have to serve a one-match ban.

Defender Gareth McKinless was unsuccessful in appealing his 48-week ban arising from the county final but it is understood that the Ballinderry club may ask for the Derry authorities to take another look at this particular punishment.

A £5,000 fine imposed on the Ballinderry club has been reduced to £2,000.

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