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Joe McMahon’s bliss, but not for Tyrone

By John Campbell

Joe McMahon will be an absentee from Tyrone’s Barrett Sports Lighting Dr McKenna Cup squad - but with good reason.

The player dubbed Tyrone’s ‘Mr Versatile’ married Geraldine Shields in Clogher yesterday and will now be conspicuous by his absence when Mickey Harte’s side begin their quest for the first trophy that will be on offer in the new season.

But McMahon, regarded as one of the most valuable players in the country because of his many-sided talents, is relishing his return to action for the National League.

The Omagh St Enda’s clubman has won Ulster Championship and All Ireland honours but makes it abundantly clear that Tyrone are already united in their bid to retain their provincial trophy and recapture ‘Sam’.

“We would be hoping to make it a hat-trick of Ulster titles but that won’t be easy and as for winning the All Ireland, we know that there are several sides in there who are very hungry to get their hands on the title,” says McMahon.

“We were bitterly disappointed to lose out to Dublin this year in the quarter-finals.

“We maybe missed a few chances that on another day we would probably have taken.

“But there appears to be a strong desire within the squad to make up for that this year.”

Generally named at left-half-forward in the Tyrone side, McMahon’s on-going deployment in a roving commission is one of the reasons why the Red Hands have been very successful in recent years.

Not only does he possess creative skills but his tracking back, tackling and ability to launch swift counter-attacks are central to Tyrone’s overall strategy.

Along with Brian Dooher and Brian McGuigan, McMahon looks certain to help form a Tyrone half-forward line this year that could prove the most potent unit within the side.

His brother Justin, who recently showed some deft footwork when he competed in a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ spectacular in Omagh, is destined for another term at full-back.

And that means that the brothers will cement their union in the side — much to the delight of their father Paddy who was a member of the Tyrone team that won the Ulster crown in the early ‘70s.

A teacher at Sacred Heart, Omagh, Paddy is hoping that Tyrone will have due cause for celebration this year — but yesterday the jubilations were very much the prerogative of the McMahon and Shields families at the lavish wedding reception in the Killyhevlin House Hotel, Enniskillen.

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