Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has included four National League debutants in his starting line-up to face Ulster rivals Derry at Celtic Park on Saturday.
Omaghh duo Barry Tierney and Conan Grugan, Ardboe’s Shay McGuigan and PJ Lavery, of Clonoe, all make their first NFL appearances for the Red Hands in the Division One curtain-raiser.
The side shows eight changes from the team which beat Derry in the recent McKenna Cup semi-final.
Meanwhile Tyrone skipper Sean Cavanagh says the Red Hands will feature more league debutants this season. The Moy man takes over from Stephen O’Neill, who was captain for two years.
O’Neill and the McMahon brothers – Joe and Justin – have been ruled out of the first two matches of Tyrone’s National League campaign.
The injured trio will miss this weekend’s league opener against the Oak Leafers, as well as the clash with beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo a week later.
Former Footballer of the Year O’Neill is troubled by a long-standing knee problem, as well as an ankle injury picked up in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Mayo.
Versatile Joe McMahon is recovering from a groin injury problem, while his younger brother, defender Justin, continues to struggle with hamstring trouble.
Defender Tierney, midfielder Grugan and attackers McGuigan and Lavery will all hope to make a positive impact as they make their league bow.
McGuigan is the fourth sibling to play league football for the Red Hands, following All-Ireland winners Frank, Brian and Tommy.
Derry manager Brian McIver includes Chrissy McKaigue, Fergal Doherty, Patsy Bradley, Gerard O’Kane, James Kielt and Enda Lynn in an experienced line-up.
Harte’s selection indicates that he has opted not to stick with the side he picked for last weekend’s postponed McKenna Cup final against Cavan.
Twelve members of that selection have been retained for the Ulster derby, but Ronan McNabb, Grugan, and Darren McCurry have been drafted in for the opening league fixture, as last year’s beaten Division One finalists target a winning start to the campaign.
“Last year we scraped wins over Down and Mayo early on and after a three-week break we were focused on the final stages of the National League and the start of the Championship,” said Tyrone skipper Cavanagh.
“It’s a much different story if you’re competing for the semi-finals or the final come March, rather than looking at possible relegation.
“I think we will be a different animal this year – we had three or four new faces last season, but we have five or six this time round.
“It can only be good for Tyrone that we trust in the talent we are producing.”
After facing Derry and Mayo, the Red Hands have a three-week break ahead of their third NFL game away to Mayo on 2 March.
Derry: T Mallon, D Brown, C McKaigue, D McBride, A McAlynn, M Lynch, S L McGoldrick, F Doherty, P Bradley, G O’Kane, J Kielt, E Lynn, C McFaul, E McGuckin, B Heron.
Tyrone: N Morgan, A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney, C McGinley, P Harte, R McNabb, D McBride, C Grugan, N McKenna, S McGuigan, PJ Lavery, D McCurry, M Donnelly, P McNeice.
Posted: 2:39 pm January 31, 2014