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Mickey Harte to focus on Tyrone’s rising stars

By John Campbell

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte plans to run the rule over a number of his up-and-coming players including Kyle Coney, Ryan Pickering, Ronan McNabb and Niall McKenna in next month’s Dr McKenna Cup competition.

But they won’t all be wearing the Red Hands colours. Pickering and McKenna may line out for their respective universities while Coney and McNabb will be afforded the chance to show their pace in Harte’s attack.

Tyrone begin their McKenna Cup campaign with a game against holders Donegal and will then have further games in their group against Fermanagh and UUJ. With the McMahon brothers Joe and Justin along with Ryan McMenamin just back from the Allstars tour to Kuala Lumpur, their extra helping of fitness should prove a January bonus.

But Tyrone secretary Dominic McCaughey reveals that goalkeeper John Devine has now undergone surgery on his shoulder injury and will be out of action for some months.

“This is the second time in just a year that John has incurred serious shoulder damage and it is very frustrating for him. Obviously he now faces a period of recuperation and we must be patient,” says McCaughey.

And he welcomes the appointment of long-serving defender Conor Gormley as a schools’ coaching officer in the county.

The triple All-Ireland winner, an electrician, decided to sit for the relevant coaching certificates and now finds himself already immersed in a twelve-month contract with the county board.

“Conor has given outstanding service to Tyrone and he is very committed to his new coaching role,” says McCaughey.

“He is already viewed as a role model by many children in the county and he can certainly wield a big influence in spreading the popularity of gaelic football at schools’ level. We are very proud of our schools’ structures and Conor will now have a part to play in enhancing these.”

This year Colm Cavanagh and Peter Harte were among the young guns who made a big impact in Tyrone’s colours and now McCaughey is hopeful that the McKenna Cup will provide the springboard for others to stake their claims for regular places in the side.

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