Football

Senior All-Ireland-winning trio join Tyrone's Masters squad

The addition of Sean Cavanagh is a major plus for All-Ireland Masters champions Tyrone
The addition of Sean Cavanagh is a major plus for All-Ireland Masters champions Tyrone

SEAN Cavanagh, Martin Penrose and Joe McMahon are among a raft of new recruits to Tyrone’s over-40s squad for a big push to win a third successive All-Ireland title.

They will join Conor Gormley, Stephen O’Neill and Ciaran Gourley in a formidable line-up that begins the defence of the Masters title next month with a trip to London to take on the Exiles.

Joint-manager Eugene Bradley believes the involvement of big-name players with Tyrone has raised the profile of the Masters game, with a number of additional counties entering the competition this year.

“This year we have 24 teams in, with Derry, Armagh and Limerick coming in as new teams,” he said.

“It has got very popular and a lot of counties are showing a lot of interest, and that’s good to see. It will make it very competitive this year.

“More county players are coming in now, the competition has got a higher profile, and I think it’s going to go from strength to strength.

“It’s a great competition and it’s well run.”

Tyrone’s star-studded team will go in as favourites for the title, but Bradley expects a serious challenge from other counties who have household names in their squads.

“Sean Cavanagh, Martin Penrose, Joe McMahon and Niall Gormley are coming in.

“But we need to be at full tilt, because other teams will be coming gunning for us.

“They’ll not like to see us winning three in a row.”

And he welcomed the decision of treble All-Ireland winners Gormley, O’Neill and Gourley to commit to another season, along with other former county players, including Eoghan Bradley.

“They’re all back this year again, and that keeps the interest going. They’re all training hard like everybody else, and that’s great to see.”

Last season’s decider against Dublin went to extra-time, before the Red Hands emerged as narrow winners of a thriller to retain their title.

“As we saw last year, it went down to the last kick of the ball in extra-time for us to win.

“We need those boys on board, and that’s why it’s so competitive.”

Bradley and co-manager Joe Leonard have been involved with the Tyrone Masters for more than 30 years, initially as players, before taking over the running of the team.

Joe’s son Damien is another important member of the management set-up as team trainer.

“Damien is in giving us a hand, and we now have a committee set up with some good people working on it.

“You need all the help you can get, and we need to raise money to keep it going, with some very good sponsors on board.”