Attacker Lee Brennan has quit the Tyrone squad.
The 23-year-old cited a lack of game time as his reason for stepping away from the Red Hand set-up, just days before the Ulster SFC quarter-final against Antrim.
The Trillick man is the second forward to leave the squad in recent weeks, with Ronan O’Neill also having left due to a lack of opportunity.
Brennan lined out for his club at the weekend, following his decision to call a halt to his inter-county career. He made just two NFL appearances this year, one as a sub, and did not feature in the Ulster Championship preliminary round win over Derry.
He was one of the stand-out stars of Tyrone’s All-Ireland U-21 Championship triumph in 2015.
Meanwhile, Tyrone defender Hugh Pat McGeary has warned against complacency on Sunday afternoon. It’s a Division One side against a Division Four outfit, but that was also the case in the preliminary round, when last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists trailed Derry by a point going down the home strait.
“It’s definitely going to be another potential banana skin. In previous years, when Tyrone have won All-Irelands, they went out in the Ulster Championship and were beaten by so-called lesser teams,” he said. “We have to be mentally prepared to deal with the opposition, who are going to give us a big challenge. Derry are classed as a Division Four team, but you saw how capable they are.
“It will be the same with Antrim, who are going to put it up to us. They’ll be coming with the attitude of having nothing to lose.”
“We’ve been going into games like that and know, deep down, that it’s not going to straightforward. Derry battled right to the end and we always knew that the Derry game was going to be difficult, but people outside the team thought that it was just going to be a walk-over.”
A more condensed Championship schedule this year means shorter intervals between games, and McGeary feels the two-week span from the preliminary round to quarter-final is ideal. “It was a while since our last league game against Galway and, collectively, as a group, we haven’t got much football. Training will never compare to a competitive match, where the opposition is really putting it up to you.”
Following a strong finish to their NFL Division One campaign, Tyrone are looking to stretch an unbeaten run to seven games this weekend. With a winning mentality and momentum on their side, they look perfectly placed to push on for an Ulster semi-final against either champions, Donegal, or Fermanagh.
“The experience of the Derry game should stand to us in trying to keep the good run going. We have to take the tag of favourites on the chin, realise that we’re capable of winning, and just go on and do that.”