I will quit if I can't find cure for my injury: McMahon
Almost two years since he last played for Tyrone, injury-ravaged Joe McMahon believes he is only a couple of weeks away from deciding whether to carry on for this year's Championship or bring down the curtain on a glorious inter-county career.
The Omagh man, who recently turned 33, hasn't played for Tyrone since he injured his groin in that tumultuous All-Ireland quarter-final win over Monaghan in 2015, with his body continually breaking down in rehab and other problems springing up as a result.
"I will probably assess things in the next couple of weeks and see where I am at. I am going to have to build myself up," he told the Belfast Telegraph at a press event for St Mary's Primary School, Killyclogher, who are hosting a fundraising night in Cappagh Parish Hall on Saturday, June 10.
"I feel every way else, fitness-wise and so on, that I am up to it. But this injury has been hampering me," said McMahon, who did not travel to Killarney for the Red Hands' league defeat on Sunday, instead doing some rehabilitation work.
"There is probably a bit of thinking time to be had over the next few weeks in terms of the injury and whether I will be able to push on."
McMahon did not rule out dropping off the county panel, though his hope is that he can get to a level to be considered for Tyrone's Ulster Championship defence, beginning with the visit to Celtic Park to face Derry for the second successive year on May 28.
"It's a possibility," he admitted.
"It's something I will have to look at because the level of the game and where it is at, the conditioning of the players. Yes, I have played quite a few games but the backroom team and all of that is in place (to fully recover). There is no reason why I can't get up to that level.
"But it's whether the body can hold out and I am able to play at that level for so long."
McMahon is one of six sets of brothers on the Tyrone panel - his brother Justin is also a Red Hands star - and his father Paddy was a county player of renown, winning an Ulster title in 1973.
McMahon came on board with the seniors in 2004, and this is his 14th season on the panel, only the legendary Sean Cavanagh from the present team playing for a longer period of time.
Throughout his time recuperating, his hamstring injury set off a series of calf strains.
As a result, he has become intimately acquainted with the medical back-up team over the course of the last two years and his frustrations have been compounded by not getting a clear run in his club career with Omagh St Enda's under returned manager Paddy Crozier.
At present, he is only able to run with the aid of an anti-gravity treadmill at Tyrone's Garvaghey Training Centre.
"I am going up through my paces on the machine," he explained.
"It helps to take the pressure off from that sense and you are able to build the body up. It tells you where you are at and where you need to be going for the next phase of the rehab in order to get back to the training field."
The Tyrone medical team of Louis O'Connor and Michael Harte provide his main company, along with other injured players, and he admits to a widespread problem facing long-term injured players of a certain isolation from the panel.
He said: "When you see the boys heading onto the pitch, training or playing, they are working hard on plays or working on things they pit in the session, you feel withdrawn.
"I am sure that is the case for anybody that is going through the rehab process. Despite being there, you are not really there, it's that kind of thing. You are not going out there playing and kicking balls.
"But it is something you are working towards and aspiring to do."
As soon as he has one problem fixed and begins to look forward, it feels as if another comes along to take its place.
"The hamstring is 100% now," he said.
"I went back through the rehab process and just the calf would tighten up so that set me back a couple of weeks more than anything on my rehab process."
Looking back on a mixed league campaign, McMahon was sanguine on Tyrone's failure to make the Division One final, having briefly topped the table with three wins and a draw in their opening four fixtures.
"Looking at it, they (Donegal, Mayo and Kerry, the teams that beat Tyrone) are three top teams, teams that are going to be dining at the top table come the end of the summer," he added.
"They are teams that you want to be competing against and we probably felt disappointed with the game against Mayo. The game was there for the taking, and we had chances."