Mickey Harte has an eye on the future
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte had laid his preliminary plans for 2012 in the expectation that both Philip Jordan and Brian McGuigan might follow Brian Dooher into retirement from the inter-county scene.
Harte has completed an intensive trawl of the Tyrone Championship during which he has assessed the performances of a number of players and some of these will now be brought into his panel for next year.
While the Red Hands will now be shorn of a considerable raft of experience, Harte believes that fresh faces in his squad will bring ambition, commitment and drive to the table when the bid to make up for what is considered a lean 2011 is launched.
Pascal McConnell, Sean Cavanagh, Conor Gormley, Kevin Hughes, Ryan McMenamin, Davy Harte, Enda McGinley, Stephen O’Neill, Martin Penrose, Owen Mulligan, Joe McMahon and Justin McMahon now represent the Tyrone old guard.
Almost certain to be alongside them next season are Sean O’Neill, Colm Cavanagh, Mark Donnelly, Martin Swift, Kyle Coney, Aidan Cassidy, Peter Harte, Dermot Carlin and Damien McCaul.
And the door remains very much open for others with Niall McKenna, Ronan McNabb, Eoin McCusker and Ronan O’Neill likely to get the chance to stake their claim for places.
It is still not known if Hughes and McMenamin will be prepared to commit themselves to Tyrone again although both have only just completed gruelling championship campaigns with their clubs.
Veteran defender McMenamin helped Dromore win their third Tyrone Championship in five years prior to their Ulster Club series exit at the hands of Ballinderry last Sunday while Hughes was a dynamic force in Killeeshil’s arrival in the Tyrone Junior Championship final in which they were beaten by Derrytresk.
McMenamin has already indicated that he will not make a definite decision on his future until “towards the end of the year” while Hughes, whose career has been disrupted by injuries, may not quite be considered a first-choice player.
Sean Cavanagh, in the running with Conor Gormley to take over as the new skipper from Dooher, paid tribute to the retiring players.
“These players leave a rich legacy behind,” said Cavanagh.