As a host of established county team players look set to defer their participation in the 2013 season until the Allianz League starts, Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh has flashed out a message of encouragement to manager Mickey Harte for the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup.
“I say bring it on,” declared Cavanagh. “I’m just itching to get into action. You could say that I wintered during the summer because of the fact that a shoulder injury kept me sidelined for so long, but now I just want to get back playing again.”
Cavanagh’s upbeat approach is just the boost that Harte needs as he prepares to put his new-look squad to the test in the inaugural competition in the new campaign, which will be formally launched at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh tonight.
“I know that a number of players prefer to give the McKenna Cup a miss, but I’m very keen to pull on the jersey again,” said Cavanagh.
“Obviously there are familiar faces missing from our team but I think it will be up to boys like Stephen O’Neill, Conor Gormley, Martin Penrose, Pascal McConnell, my brother Colm and me to try and give a lead, especially as we have so many new faces in the squad.”
Donegal, who leave on a team holiday shortly, celebrated their Ulster and All-Ireland titles in spectacular style on Saturday night when the players received their medals and the Anglo Celt and Sam Maguire cups were feted at a gala banquet in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny.
“It was a marvellous occasion, but once the players come back from their trip it will be a case of getting down to business again,” says county chairman PJ McGowan.
Meanwhile Kieran McGeeney has confirmed that ex-Wexford manager Jason Ryan will be part of his Kildare management team next year.
Ryan, who is in his early 30s, made a huge impact as Wexford boss and will undoubtedly prove a considerable asset to Kildare.
Armagh manager Paul Grimley has confirmed his squad for the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup. The orchard County will open their campaign against Queen’s on Sunday January 6 at the Athlteic Grounds.
Ciaran McKeever has again been confirmed as captain.
ARMAGH: Niall Geoghegan (Middletown), Conor McKeown (Shane O'Neills),Mark Shields (Whitecross), Brian Mallon (Tir na nog), Niall Rowland (Culloville), Finian Moriarty (Wolfe Tones), Barry Loughran (Carrickcruppen), Ciaran McKeever (Cullyhanna), Gary McCoey (Cullyhanna), Gavin McParland (Ballymacnab), Kieran Toner (Granemore), Stephen Harold (Carrickcruppen), Peter Carragher (Silverbridge), Ethan Rafferty (Grange), James Lavery (Maghery), John Kingham (Culloville), James Donnelly (Killeavy), Aidan Forker (Maghery), Stefan Campbell (Clan Na Gael), Niall McConville (St Peters), Michael Stevenson (Sarsfields), Stefan Forker (Maghery), Caolan Rafferty (Granemore), Eugene McVerry (Mullaghbawn), Declan Carville (Carrickcruppen), Sean Clarke (Pearse Og).