On Sunday Tyrone make their championship bow for 2012 as they make the short trip across the Blackwater to the Morgan Athletic Grounds to take on Armagh, writes Seamus Donnelly.
The Red Hands enter the game on the back of an excellent McKenna Cup and League campaign, which saw them win promotion to Division1
Spirits within the camp have been dashed in recent weeks, following the defeat to Kildare and then the season ending injuries to influential players including Sean Cavanagh and Kyle Coney.
Indeed, so concerned were the Tyrone management about the ongoing injury problems, that they invited a number of promising club players to take part in their training session last Thursday evening.
While the Tyrone team enjoyed a positive league campaign, Armagh endured a disappointing one having suffered relegation from Division 1 of the National League.
Their squad will be bolstered by the return of their Crossmaglen contingent including Aaron Kernan and Jamie Clarke who are more than capable of turning a game.
Armagh’s form this year has been patchy beating Kerry away and drawing with Cork at home before suffering a humbly defeat to Dublin.
Having suffered a convincing defeat to Dublin in Croke Park at the tail end of last season, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has attempted to reshape the Tyrone team by introducing new blood during the League campaign.
Perhaps the part of the team that will see the most change when Tyrone take the field next Sunday is the half back line, which has undergone a makeover during the McKenna Cup and National League
Peter Harte and Cathal McCarron were two of only four ever present faces during the league campaign and seem set to start on Sunday.
Competition for the final spot in the half back line is fierce with Donaghmore’s Damien McCaul seemingly in pole position but with Sean O’Neill returning from suspension and a number of familiar faces such as Ryan McMenamin still looking for a spot in the team, nothing can be taken for granted.
Up front Tyrone will probably have a more familiar look the team with injuries to Ronan O’Neill and Kyle Coney depriving the county of two rising stars.
Ronan McNabb, who impressed in roving role during the league is also an injury doubt and as a result the Tyrone forward line is likely to rely on the experienced Owen Mulligan and Stephen O’Neill.
For more build-up to the big match remember that there are still a limited number of tickets available for the ‘Progging the Orchard’ Preview Night in the Craic Theatre, Coalisland this Thursday night.
Among those sharing their opinions owill be former Tyrone stars Feargal Logan and Damian O’Hagan as well as Armagh legend Ger Houlahan and former manager Brian Canavan.
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Weather for Dungannon
Tuesday 21 May 2013
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Wind direction: North
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