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Tyrone's Joe McMahon has dream of title treble

By John Campbell

Joe McMahon has experienced a roller-coaster ride with Tyrone since the start of the year.

He won a Dr McKenna Cup medal when the Red Hands retained the trophy at the end of January but found himself red-carded in their opening league game against Down.

Since then, McMahon, one of manager Mickey Harte's most trusted foot-soldiers, has claimed his second gong of the season, having played an important role in Ulster's win over Leinster last Sunday.

He was one of eight Tyrone players in the provincial squad the others being Peter Harte, Sean Cavanagh, Pascal McConnell, Martin Penrose, Cathal McCarron Conor McAliskey and his own brother Justin McMahon.

This surely speaks volumes for the overall strength of the current Red Hands line-up and offers considerable encouragement going into Sunday's vital Allianz League Division One tie against All-Ireland champions Donegal.

McMahon is targeting what would be his third honour this year as Tyrone seek to step up their bid for the league title but accepts that there is "a hard road ahead".

"While it was brilliant to share in Ulster's triumph, we want to push on with Tyrone now and maybe get into the frame for the league title," observes McMahon.

"Obviously the top division is delicately balanced just now. You would not know who is going to survive never mind who will win the title.

"We still have to go to Dublin and Kildare and face Cork and Kerry at home so it is easy to see that there is a hard road ahead."

McMahon's versatility has been one of the bulwarks of Tyrone's strategy in recent years and he looks certain to again fulfil his now familiar roving commission against Donegal.

"I don't mind where I play as long as I am in the starting line-up," states McMahon.

"There are so many boys competing for jerseys now that it's unreal. I'm just happy to have been in the side since the start of the year and I hope I remain there."

Manager Harte has refuted reports that Owen Mulligan is back in the squad although he is anxious to see Kyle Coney return to the attack after a lengthy lay-off because of a serious ankle injury.

Ronan O'Neill and Darren McCurry are currently pressing their claims for more regular recognition in the attack during the league, the former having been deployed as a substitute of late.

Donegal boss Jim McGuinness expects his team to be considerably boosted as midfielder Neil Gallagher, scoring ace Colm McFadden and key defender Frank McGlynn along with Paddy McGrath are available again.

However, Allstar full-back Neil McGee, outstanding of late, is a doubt with a back problem but he will be given every chance to make the team.

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