Gormley: Jordan return will boost Tyrone fortunes

PHILIP JORDAN’S u-turn on his decision to quit could transform Tyrone’s season, according to his half-back partner Conor Gormley.

Treble All-Ireland winner Jordan has played just a few minutes of National League football this year, causing a sensation by withdrawing from the squad following a brief substitute appearance against Kildare.

But the county’s only current All Star was persuaded by manager Mickey Harte to commit to another championship season, and his return has boosted the Red Hands ahead of Sunday’s Ulster opener against Monaghan.

“It’s very important to have Philly back. You want all your main players there, and Philly is definitely one of them,” said Gormley. “He has proved down through the years what he can do for Tyrone.

“The likes of Brian Dooher coming back as well is a big boost. They give us plenty of experience and it’s good to have all those men available, and injury-free, which is important as well.”

Despite the absence of Joe McMahon and Enda McGinley, the Ulster champions will take the field with a vastly experienced core to their team.

But Gormley senses that 2011 could be the year when a raft of exciting young players, including members of the 2008 All-Ireland winning minor side, make the breakthrough.

“There’s a lot of young players, the likes of Peter Harte, Niall McKenna, those boys have brought a wee bit of freshness to the thing, they’re mad keen.

“They were maybe unfortunate this year with the U21s, that they didn’t win an Ulster title. But again, that’s experience, that will do them no harm, and hopefully they will bring it to the senior stage.

“This could be a big year for them to push on and try and get a starting berth. They have proved what they can do at under-age level, so now’s the time to step up.”

A repeat of last year’s Ulster final, which was won comfortably by Tyrone, the Red Hand centre back believes Monaghan will take a fearless approach to this weekend’s quarter-final.

“They were disappointed to get beaten in the Ulster final again by us, so they have a point to prove, and they’ll not fear coming down to play Tyrone in Omagh.

“Maybe everybody is writing them off, but they’re a great team, they have shown that down through the years, and they’re a division one team as well, so we’ll find it tough.

“You get nothing handy against Monaghan, no matter what stage of the year it is, whether it’s a challenge game or a McKenna Cup game, it’s always a tough game for us, so we’ll have to be up for it as well.”

Monaghan will be without ace attacker Tommy Freeman, who has departed for the USA in search of employment, but they will nevertheless feel they can exploit a Tyrone defence that at times leaked scores at an alarming rate during the league.

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