Harte gets chance to assess Red Hand depth
An All County League final in late November would not normally titillate the taste buds of even the most committed followers.
But as Tyrone manager Mickey Harte ponders the possibility of a hat-trick of Dr McKenna Cup triumphs, tomorrow's Healy Park showdown between Carrickmore and Ardboe (8pm) could provide him with much food for thought.
A fistful of this year's county players including Conor Gormley, Mark Donnelly and Martin Penrose will be on view in Carrickmore's colours, but there is a doubt about the availability of Ardboe sharpshooter Kyle Coney.
He picked up a knock in the league semi-final win over Clonoe while another Tyrone young guns, Conor McAliskey, was absent having damaged his shoulder against Ballinderry in the Ulster club championship.
McAliskey, along with Matthew Donnelly, made a big impact with Tyrone this year and Harte is hoping that this duo can reach greater heights next year. He has been in fine form for Tyrone championship title winners Clonoe this year, but is resigned to being out until the concluding stages of the McKenna Cup at the earliest.
"It's very disappointing not to be able to get into the action straight from the off in 2014," says McAliskey who won an Ulster GAA Writers' Association monthly merit award earlier this year.
"I had hoped to get back into the Tyrone squad, but now I must wait and see what happens. I would like to think that I will return before the end of January."
Over the course of the next two weeks trials will be held at which Harte will assess a number of players but for the moment tomorrow's league final shoot -out holds the spotlight.
Shea McGuigan and John McConville are two Ardboe players who are presented with a chance of thrusting themselves into the reckoning.