Peter Harte is nothing if not versatile. Having previously served Tyrone at wing-forward and wing-back, the Errigal Ciaran clubman has been named at centre-half-back for tomorrow’s Power NI Dr McKenna Cup opener against Queen’s at Healy Park, Omagh.
Not only is the 21-year-old Harte sharp and adaptable but he is also a recognised free-taker, particularly from long range.
And despite his age, he is now regarded as one of the more seasoned foot-soldiers in Mickey Harte’s line-up as a number of other players seek to impress the boss against Cathal O’Rourke’s feisty students.
Jonathan Lafferty, Paddy McNiece, Stephen McNally and Michael Murphy are among those who will strive to make an early impression on manager Harte who has drawn up a more rigid training regime for his squad.
Tyrone traditionally tend to ‘ease’ themselves into the season but given the recent spate of retirements and the fact that a number of other players such as Kevin Hughes, Joe McMahon, Conor Gormley, Mark Donnelly and Owen Mulligan have delayed their return to action, Harte is anxious to see his side hit form early.
“There are opportunities for the players who have come in to claim regular places and our games in the McKenna Cup will let us know where we are at.
“It’s important that we try and have a settled side for the National League as Division Two will be very competitive,” reflects Harte.
Sean Cavanagh (shoulder) and Stephen O’Neill (finger) are both recovering from injuries but should be back shortly.
Indeed, they will be candidates for the captaincy in succession to the now retired Brian Dooher.
The choice of Peter Harte at centre-half-back underlines his manager’s desire to maximise his versatility while the inclusion of PJ Quinn and Damien McCaul in the corner-back berths gives these players the chance to settle into the side.
McCaul has been particularly badly hit by injuries and has been unable to enjoy a protracted spell in the team.
“Damien is a very talented player but he has been unfortunate. Obviously he is very keen to get a run in the side now.
“He has experience and brings great commitment to the table,” observes Tyrone PRO Damien Harvey.
John Devine gets the chance to reclaim the goalkeeping berth on a more regular basis, Martin Penrose has been handed the role of playmaker at centre-half-forward while Tommy McGuigan, hampered by injury last term, can rediscover the form that initially earned him his place in the side.
Meanwhile, St Mary’s manager Paddy Tally believes his side face a very tough mission against Monaghan tomorrow.
St Mary’s will be without a few regulars for the joust with Eamon McEnaney’s side at Clones.
“This will be a difficult opening game for us but there is a good spirit within the side. We will need to get into our stride early if we can,” says Tally.
Darren Hughes, the former UUJ player, will lead Monaghan with Eoin Lennon and Paul Finlay among other players who will be providing experience.