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Tyrone can still make huge impact, insists McMahon

By John Campbell

Tyrone double All-Ireland winner Joe McMahon refuses to buy into the theory that his county will not make it into the All-Ireland quarter-finals (Super 8's) this year.

The Red Hands' surprising Ulster Championship defeat to Monaghan was followed by a major scare against Meath in the first round of the qualifiers but ahead of Saturday's assignment against newly-promoted Carlow, McMahon is confident that manager Mickey Harte can rally his troops for a big performance.

McMahon, who won his All-Ireland medals in 2005 and 2008, served his county from 2004 until last year and remains fanatically committed to the O'Neill county cause.

"Mickey has experience of the back door in the past and he knows how to rally his side," states McMahon.

"We played 10 matches in all before we won the Sam Maguire Cup in 2005 so the present squad can maybe take their lead from that side.

"Obviously when you enter the qualifiers you can be drawn against anyone and the fact that teams from Division Three and Four are now favoured with home advantage even if the draw decrees that they should play away potentially makes it that little bit more difficult for their opponents."

Tyrone's trip to Carlow on Saturday is being viewed with apprehension within a county which is still trying to find its championship feet following that humiliation at the hands of Dublin last year.

"Carlow reached the semi-finals of the Leinster Championship in which they lost to Laois but they will have re-grouped and their manager Turlough O'Brien and coach Stephen Poacher will have them fired up for Saturday.

"They will relish being at home and will see Tyrone as a big scalp to be claimed," points out McMahon.

While boss Harte is, not surprisingly in view of recent events, taking one step at a time, the prospect of a place in the Super 8's is proving a huge motivational factor.

"Obviously the Super 8's league format could prove very demanding on teams particularly those who are forced to navigate their way through the qualifiers but nonetheless Tyrone quite rightly feel they have the capacity to get there," insists McMahon.

"They have been unfortunate with a variety of injuries lately but hopefully players who have been out will work their way back into contention for places.

"There is absolutely no doubt that the Super 8's concept will make big demands on the various competing teams and I just hope that Tyrone avoid any more injuries in the interim."

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