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Tyrone to battle on without O'Neill

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has been left unable to name team captain Stephen O'Neill in the team to face Offaly in round one of the All-Ireland qualifiers today.

O'Neill's Achilles injury has got the better of him, leaving Tyrone without the man who scored 3-19 in this year's National League campaign.

Others who have been ruled out include brothers Joe and Justin McMahon and Dermot Carlin with short-term injuries, Niall Morgan's season appears over, while PJ Quinn has withdrawn from the panel in the last fortnight. Harte hands Championship debuts to three players; two of them in the full-back line.

Danny McBride of Strabane played less than 40 minutes of football in the National League, coming on as sub against Dublin and Kildare, but is named at full-back here. A likely switch could occur between McBride and Conor Clarke, named at wing-back.

Ryan McKenna saw gametime in every league match apart from the semi-final against Kildare, and he comes in at corner-back as a direct replacement for Quinn.

Errigal Ciaran's busy wing-forward Ciaran McGinley slots in at wing-forward in place of Justin McMahon. The Red Hands are already short on firepower as they are down goalkeeper Morgan, who was a revelation through the league, scoring 0-18 from placed balls. Morgan injured his lateral ligament while playing for Edendork.

Harte appeared to have faith in the youngster after he was psyched out by Donegal's approach to their first-round game, in which he converted only one free out of six attempts, when he said: "In the league final he could not miss a kick and today he missed several of them. That's life. He is still a very good place kicker and I have no doubt we will see him kicking over points again."

TYRONE (v Offaly): P McConnell; R McKenna, D McBride, C McCarron; C Gormley, P Harte, C Clarke; S Cavanagh, C Cavanagh; C McGinley, Mark Donnelly, Matthew Donnelly; D McCurry, M Penrose, C McAliskey

DERRY (v Sligo): E McNicholl; D Brown, C McKaigue, D McBride; C Kielt, M Lynch [Capt], SL McGoldrick; P Bradley, PJ McCloskey; C McAtamney, J Kielt, E Lynn; C McFaul, L Kennedy, B Heron

CAVAN (v Monaghan): C Gilsenan; J McLoughlin, R Dunne, K Clarke; J McEnroe, A Clarke [Capt], R Flanagan; D O'Reilly, D Givney; C Mackey, J Brady, F Flanagan; N McDermott, M Dunne, E Keating

MONAGHAN (v Cavan) R Beggan; D Mone, D Wylie, C Walshe; V Corey, N McAdam, K Duffy; E Lennon [Capt], D Hughes; S Gollogly, P Finlay, D Clerkin; C McGuinness, K Hughes, C McManus.

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