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Tyrone boss Harte will glean some comfort from cup defeat

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte may have seen his side lose the Dr McKenna Cup final to Derry but the match provided him with considerable comfort for the remainder of his team’s Allianz Football League itinerary, beginning with Saturday’s floodlit game against Antrim at Omagh.

The return of the McMahon brothers Justin and Joe, the fact that Enda McGinley’s ankle injury is not as bad as feared at first, Owen Mulligan’s reinvigorated approach following his safari in Australia and the availability again of Peter Harte and Niall McKenna, means that the Red Hands boss has enhanced selection options.

But Harte, aware that his side — along with Antrim — have been propping up the Division Two table of late, is quick to make the point that Liam Bradley’s team overcame Meath in their last outing.

“I think that is a telling commentary on Antrim’s spirit and skill. They will take great heart from that win and we will certainly need to be on our toes for this game,” insists Harte.

Dermot Carlin missed the McKenna Cup final and will be unavailable this weekend but with Justin McMahon likely to resume at full-back the defence will certainly not be weakened.

Kevin Hughes and Aidan Cassidy formed the midfield partnership against Derry and may be retained, while Sean Cavanagh is currently in a rich vein of form in the half-forward line, his goal against Derry in the McKenna Cup final a particularly spectacular solo effort.

Meanwhile, Benny Coulter could again be an absentee from the Down side that will face Cork on Saturday night in an important Division One fixture.

Definitely out, though, is goalkeeper Brendan McVeigh who will again be replaced by Burren’s Cathal Murdock.

Mayobridge clubman Coulter suffered a hamstring injury in the warm-up prior to his team’s last game against Armagh and was forced to sit out the tie.

While he has been receiving treatment in the interim, it is understood the long-serving forward is still being troubled by the injury.

No decision on his fitness will be made until later in the week as Down set out their stall to gain a measure of revenge over Conor Counihan’s side for last year’s All Ireland final defeat.

Cork have lost one game to date to Dublin but at home they are invariably difficult opponents.

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