Tyrone manager Mickey Harte will unveil his new-look team for the Power NI Dr McKenna Cup opener against Queen’s later this week and it looks certain that he will place his faith in youth.
The Red Hands boss may be missing some of his most decorated players following a raft of retirements recently but he feels that his newcomers have the strong incentive of proving worthy successors to those players who ensured their places in the annals of the county’s sporting history by winning three All- Ireland medals.
“We still have a lot of good players in Tyrone,” insists Harte.
“And some of those players who have come through have been accustomed to winning things at schools, minor and Under 21 level.
“A winning mentality can boost players and bring out the best in them.
“Certainly it won’t be easy as every county is focussed on making a good start but we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Queen’s manager Aidan O’Rourke — an All-Ireland winner with Armagh in 2002 — is well aware that Tyrone, despite the absence of an experienced underbelly, will prove a stern initial test for his team at Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday (2pm).
Tyrone will have the services of the talented Niall McKenna in midfield .
He is one of the Queen’s players who has opted to turn out for his county this time round following the amendment made to the Ulster Council rule whereby players can now choose between turning out for their county or university rather than their university having first call on them as in the past seasons.
Among other players who could get the chance to make their mark are Kyle Coney, Conor Clarke, Ciaran Gervin, Jonathan Lafferty, Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNabb, Patrick McNeice, Stephen McNulty and Ronan O’Neill.
Following their opening game against Queen’s, Tyrone will then face Antrim away and Fermanagh, under their new boss Peter Canavan, at home.
The McKenna Cup programme gets under way on Sunday. The games are Fermanagh v Antrim, Queen’s v Tyrone, Down v Armagh, St Mary’s v Monaghan, Derry v Cavan, Donegal v UUJ.