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McMahon to decide on Tyrone future soon

Thursday, 13 April 2017

McMahon to decide on Tyrone future soon thumbnailTyrone's Joe McMahon (left) will decide on his inter-county future in the coming weeks, while Ryan McMenamin (right) has recounted his duels with Colm Cooper following the Kerry forward's recent retirement.

JOE McMahon's Tyrone future will be decided over the next few weeks.

The Omagh man has endured a two-year injury nightmare which has prevented him from pulling on the county shirt.

McMahon last played for the Red Hands in the 2015 All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry, when he suffered a groin injury.

A series of setbacks have followed, but McMahon has not been able to get back to full fitness.

The double All-Ireland winner has decided that a decision is imminent, and Tyrone supporters are hoping to see him back in the county colours once again.

Meanwhile, former Tyrone defender Ryan McMenamin says his infamous battles with Colm Cooper made him a better defender.

The Dromore man has recalled his memorable duels with the Gooch, who announced his retirement from inter-county football last week.

As the pair searched for new ways to outwit each other at the height of the counties' fierce rivalry of the noughties, Cooper and McMenamin took their own games to new heights.

“From early on, he improved in his movement down through the years as I was marking him, and he probably improved me as a defender too," he said.

“He made me look at other ways of defending, and finding ways to counter-act what he was doing.

“He always seemed to be getting better every time I came up against him."

McMenamin said he had to be on top of his game each time he took on the challenge.

“Going out, you can't afford to be thinking that you're going to have an easy day.

“If you're five or ten per cent off, or even two per cent off, you'll be punished."

He considers himself fortunate to have had the privilege of being sent into direct opposition to the Kerry legend on numerous occasions.

“I had some very good tussles with him. I was lucky enough to mark one of the best forwards of his generation.

“You always look forward to battles like that, and between the two of us, we had no love lost between us, on the field.

“And that was probably the nature of rivalry between Tyrone and Kerry at the time.

“He was a great forward, and you always knew that whenever you played against him, you had to be at the top of your game, whether it be in the league or the championship."

McMenamin, who won an All-Star award following Tyrone's 2005 All-Ireland final triumph over Kerry, had been one of Cooper's ardent admirers even before the two first faced off in what as to become a fiery, fractious and controversial personal rivalry.

“I had watched him, and you always appreciate a good forward. He was a forward who could take points, and he could also create scores for other players.

“It was just his general movement, his distribution, his two feet and his vision that made him the great player he is."

And the Tyrone man felt it was inevitable that the influence of the Gooch would suffer in the modern game as blanket defences became commonplace.

“I think all forwards suffer now. And as time goes on, it's hard to be the same player as you were in your twenties.

“There were teams he would have come across who had fifteen men inside the 45, and you're not going to get much space in that situation."

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